New York (The Verge) — The federal government granted its first driverless car exemption trib.al/RYIDnck.
Nuro, the self-driving startup founded by two ex-Google engineers, has a new delivery robot. The R2 is the company’s second-generation vehicle, and while it looks similar to the first-generation R1 — egg-shaped, no room for a human driver, cute — there is one important difference: the R2 has been granted a special exemption from federal safety requirements.
Right now, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) require cars to have basic, human controls, like steering wheels, pedals, sideview mirrors, and so on. These standards specify how vehicles must be designed before they can be sold in the US. If a proposed new vehicle doesn’t comply with all existing FMVSS, manufacturers can apply for an exemption. But the government is allowed to grant 2,500 exemptions per company per year.
But regulators haven’t granted any exemptions to autonomous vehicle companies — until now. Nuro says it’s the first, which allows it to begin operating its driverless delivery vehicles on public roads “with regulatory certainty,” according to David Estrada, the company’s chief legal officer. — Andrew J. Hawkins/@verge