BYD has announced a partnership with autonomous vehicle company Nuro to begin producing the company’s third generation electric autonomous delivery vehicle.
“The partnership is expected to scale Nuro’s more affordable, eco-friendly, and convenient services to millions of people across the country,” a statement said.
“BYD will leverage the manufacturing capacity of our Lancaster plant by finishing assembly of globally sourced hardware components to supply Nuro and bring more jobs to the community,” said Stella Li, a BYD EVP and the president of BYD North America, “Together we will build this autonomous delivery vehicle, with the mutual goal of creating a safer environment on streets across the United States.”
The announcement followed Nuro’s $600m Series D funding round which closed in Q4 2021. Combining both comapnies’ technology, the third generation autonomous delivery vehicle will have a greater payload and new safety equipment. With twice the cargo volume of the current R2 model, the “automotive production grade” vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customise storage and new temperature controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool. Safety enhancements include an external airbag to further improve safety for pedestrians outside the vehicle, as well as a multi-modal sensing suite, including cameras, radars, lidar, and thermal cameras, creating a redundant 360-degree view.
Nuro was founded in 2016 by Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, former principal engineers of Google’s self-driving car team. Specialising in developing zero occupant vehicles designed specifically for transporting goods and not passengers, Nuro has so far launched two generations of autonomous vehicles, introduced delivery service with the likes of pizza company Domino’s, US supermarket chain Kroger, and US convenience store chain 7-Eleven, and announced a multi-year partnership with FedEx.
“BYD is one of the largest OEM networks of electric vehicles in the world, and we are thrilled to [work] with them to help us move one step closer to scaled commercial operations,” said Zhu, Nuro’s CEO. “We look forward to transforming the hardware components of BYD’s globally sourced electric vehicle platform into innovative autonomous vehicles capable of operating on public roads at our new facility here in America. Through our partnership with BYD, we plan to produce autonomous vehicles at scale that can improve road safety, air quality, and overall access to goods.”