No passengers, plenty of baggage

A pair of ex-Google engineers has created a funky last-mile autonomous vehicle, designed as a smarter way for companies to deliver their packages.

Nuro.ai raised US$92 million ($113,900,000) in venture capital for its self-driving delivery van, which will never carry a human on board. Instead, it's designed to do the dirty work for online retailers like Amazon.

The toaster-shaped 'car' weighs 680kg, most of which is down to the battery pack and electric motors hiding under the floor. It's a similar length to large SUVs (the company hasn't provided an exact figure at this point) but measures just 1 metre wide, while the windshield serves no practical purpose – there's no driver to look through it, but Nuro says it makes other road users feel more comfortable.

The interior is endlessly customisable, and capable of carrying around 110kg of cargo. Shelves, hanging racks or bare floors for tying down cargo are some of the suggested configurations, but the possibilities are essentially endless. There's a number pad on the side of the car, presumably for users to key in a code and access their goods, although smartphone access is another potential solution to the problem.

Nuro isn't the first company to play around with the idea of self-driving delivery cars – in fact, it's part of a growing crowd. Toyota has the e-Palette, while Domino's has talked about delivering pizza autonomously. A number of Californian startups have announced plans to create similar vehicles to the R1, too.

The Nuro team is planning to have the R1 in production by 2021.