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Self-driving vehicle startup Nuro has raised $500 million in a Series C funding round as it moves to scale robotic delivery of consumer goods.
Earlier this year, the company received approvals from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to start testing its driverless vehicles on public roads in California.
The state then issued a shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19, putting the pilot on hold. The robotics company quickly found another use for its R2 robotic delivery vehicles, using them to deliver medical supplies.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that contactless delivery of goods, the service R2 provides, can help reduce the spread,” said Jiajun Zhu, CEO and co-founder of Nuro.
The funding round was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from existing investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock, and new investors including Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Baillie Gifford. It brings the total raised by Nuro since 2016 to $1.5 billion.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented shift in consumer demand for safe and affordable local delivery services,” Zhu said. “This funding, which brings us together with many of the world’s top investors, positions Nuro confidently toward a future where our world-class technology is adopted into people’s everyday lives.”
Nuro has agreed partnerships with several well-known brands, including Walmart, Domino’s, Kroger, and CVS.
The first deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software was in a pilot with the grocery-chain Kroger in Arizona in 2018.
R2s now operate fully autonomously on public roads in California, Texas, and Arizona, without drivers, occupants, or following cars.