Self-driving cars, trucks, sidewalk robots and shuttles are rolling out of the labs and parking garages and onto American streets to help deliver groceries, meals, and medical supplies.
Although self-driving car companies have paused on-road testing in the U.S., as it is not considered an essential business, pivoting to deliveries allows them back on the road to gather more data.
Since mid-April, the cars of General Motors Co’s self-driving unit Cruise have flashed a “SF COVID-19 Response” sign on their windshields as they deliver food from SF-Marin Food Bank and SF New Deal to seniors in need. Each car has two safety drivers; one wears a mask and gloves to drop bags off at the door.
“We’re not making a fundamental pivot away from ride-sharing,” said Rob Grant, vice president of government affairs at Cruise. “What I do see is this pandemic really showing where self-driving vehicles can be of use in the future. That includes in contactless delivery like we’re doing here.”