Safety @ Nuro: A Series

Nuro Team
Nuro
Published in
3 min readMar 3, 2022

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Getting safety right from the start.

At Nuro, safety is so intrinsic to our operations and to our philosophy that it’s impossible to separate our mission — to improve everyday lives — from our safety commitment. We believe strongly in the power of autonomous vehicles (AVs) to save lives, and as one of the first zero-occupant autonomous vehicle companies, it’s our job to establish trust in this technology so that AVs can be deployed at scale.

Scaled deployment is crucial: for every mile of driving replaced by a zero-occupant vehicle, the risk of fatality or injury can be reduced by approximately 60%. That’s a profound reduction, especially considering that over 40,000 Americans died in traffic crashes last year alone — the most in more than 15 years. The weight of these numbers compels us forward and is top-of-mind as we work to bring our autonomous vehicles to communities across the country.

We have an obligation to get our safety measures right, and we take that responsibility seriously. That’s why we have a rigorous approach to safety that permeates every level of our company. We think critically about how to improve our processes and adapt to changing environments, and we’re constantly examining ways to make our technology safer. We also want to be transparent about our safety protocols so that community members, policymakers, and the general public can feel confident in the solutions we’ve created.

Our product safety approach comprises five interconnected areas that we’ll be exploring in-depth throughout this series:

  1. Hardware
    Our vehicles always evoke strong reactions: they’re pretty cute. But our zero-occupant design is more than just fun — it’s built to improve the safety of neighborhood roads. A narrower design allows the vehicle to share the road with bicyclists, and high-performance sensors allow for a 360° field of vision for our best-in-class perception system. We have built-in redundancies for all safety-critical systems in the vehicle, so if any single part of the system malfunctions, there’s at least one backup, and we also develop innovative solutions such as our external air bag for additional safety.
  2. Autonomy
    We develop software to ensure our vehicles behave safely in autonomous mode. We have a reliable, distributed computational network capable of processing millions of decisions per second. And we developed our autonomy architecture to have redundancy throughout, so that our vehicle has no single point of failure — there are safeguards for everything.

3. Testing
Our testing program covers real world, simulated, and synthetic testing to create a deployment approach informed by high-quality data. We collect data and test our vehicles in the environments where we intend to deploy, as well as in closed course settings to ensure we are testing our vehicles in some of the most challenging situations.

4. Systems
We integrate software and hardware to create a safe and reliable autonomous vehicle. We also conduct rigorous verification and validation testing to ensure hardware and software work together for maximum performance, safety, and reliability. Before deploying within a specific scope (such as within a set neighborhood), we evaluate our vehicles’ performance across all of our testing modalities to ensure we meet the rigorous requirements of our safety case before deployment.

5. Operational
From fleet maintenance to operator training and validation, we’ve established a strict set of standards to ensure we operate our vehicles in a safe manner during validation and deployment. If our vehicle ever encounters a situation it doesn’t have confidence in navigating, a certified operator can take over. We work closely with our partners, end customers, local responders, and all of our teams to ensure safety is both built-in and top-of-mind.

With our rigorous and comprehensive approach to safety, we’re improving everyday life by creating safer roads for everyone. We’re excited to share that process with you over the course of the next few months as we give you an in-depth look at how safety is central to every decision we make at Nuro.

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Nuro Team
Nuro

On a mission to better everyday life through robotics.