Nuro Joins Alliance, Bolstering Coalition’s Tech Perspective on Ending Hunger

August 24, 2021

Though America is a prosperous nation, a large swath of our population goes hungry: in 2019, 35 million people in the U.S. experienced hunger, and the COVID pandemic only exacerbated that crisis—an estimated 42 million people are currently experiencing food insecurity, including about 13 million children.

Nuro’s mission is to better everyday life through robotics. We are committed to connecting people with the things they need—especially food. That’s why we’ve developed electric, autonomous vehicles (AVs) for local deliveries of fresh groceries and other essential items. This technology will help connect people with goods from businesses and charitable organizations in their communities.

We’re honored to join the Alliance to End Hunger in our shared mission to combat food insecurity. As the Alliance’s diverse membership illustrates, ending hunger requires people from a wide range of organizations and viewpoints to come together—from government to nonprofits to industry—to address the many challenges that lead to food insecurity. We look forward to learning from fellow members of the Alliance about how we can play our part in eliminating hunger.

Transportation is a major barrier to accessing daily essentials. The failures of modern transportation are especially apparent in communities the USDA classifies as food deserts, in which access to affordable fresh groceries is limited due to a lack of affordable healthy food options within a reasonable distance.

These barriers to access cascade into larger public health issues. People living in food deserts are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, obesity, and heart disease, since less-nutritious foods are often the only nearby options. Even worse, children suffering from malnutrition are less likely to perform well in school, limiting opportunities for the next generation.

We believe that access to fresh food should not depend on a family’s ability to afford, access, or drive a car. While existing grocery delivery services add $10–20 to the cost of an order, our goal is to reduce this delivery cost to $0. We will do this by building an entirely new, electric, delivery-only vehicle that will cost less to build, maintain, and deploy at scale than a traditional, gas-powered car typically used for delivery.

Reducing the cost of home delivery to a price anyone can afford would allow people living on fixed or low incomes to have the same convenient and affordable access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other groceries as those who live in food-rich areas. To this end, Nuro’s founders committed to deliberately including underrepresented and disadvantaged communities in our product and service roadmaps in order to ensure the benefits of this technology reach everyone.

In addition to deliveries with our business partners in our initial neighborhood deployments, we’ve dedicated fleet operations to deliver thousands of meals for Houston Food Bank, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, and Waste Not in greater Phoenix.

We wanted to understand the impact that delivery AVs, if deployed nationwide, could have at scale. Our analysis found that delivery AVs could improve access to fresh groceries for 14 million of the 20 million low-income Americans living in food deserts, or about ≈70%.

While we’re excited about this tremendous opportunity, we understand that meaningfully addressing the underlying causes of hunger requires us to go beyond tech solutions. We must also acknowledge and address the role of historic decisions on land use and investment, the legacy of redlining, and disparities in transportation access.

We’re still in the beginning of our journey at Nuro, but we are excited about the potential for autonomous deliveries to improve access to fresh food. We continue to learn from experts in the anti-hunger community about how we can help as we scale up our operations.

Nuro looks forward to working with the Alliance and its members to do our part in the fight to end hunger.