Softbank invests $940m in driverless delivery startup

Written by Hannah McGrath

Nuro, an autonomous delivery vehicle firm has secured $940m from Softbank’s Vision Fund in a funding round that values the company at $2.7 billion.

The $100 billlion megafund is betting on the Silicon-valley based firm as Nuro races ahead of the pack in developing compact local delivery robots for short, unmanned journeys.

The firm, founded in 2019 by two alumni of Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, has no windows or seats and has two side doors that open to delivery groceries from refrigerated and other specialised compartments. It uses Nuro’s navigation software and a range of sensors and lasers.

The company, whose motto is “delivering the future of local commerce, autonomously” has been trialling its tech with US grocery chain Kroger and in December last year launched the first-ever unmanned delivery service using its R1 robot in Arizona, charging $5.95 for deliveries.

Nuro has so far built around six vehicles and said it would use Softbank’s investment to develop more. It will also expand its delivery service, add new partners for its underlying software and technology and continue to grow its team.

The funding injection comes after Amazon launched trials of its own autonomous delivery bot, called Scout, in Seattle.

The pilot forms part of the e-commerce giant’s testing of alternative delivery methods, however during the testing phase Scout robots are being monitored on their journeys by Amazon employees.