Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson at TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10 in San Jose

Autonomous delivery startup Nuro, fresh with nearly $1 billion in capital from SoftBank, is bursting with ideas — as some recent patent filings (and our recent deep dive into the company) suggest. And we can’t wait to learn more about what Nuro has planned.

It’s only fitting that Nuro co-founder and president Dave Ferguson is our first announced guest for TechCrunch’s inaugural TC Sessions: Mobility, a one-day event on July 10, 2019 in San Jose, Calif., that’s centered around the future of mobility and transportation.

Ferguson has been working on robotics and machine learning for nearly two decades and is an early pioneer of self-driving vehicle technology. He led the planning group for Carnegie Mellon University’s team that won the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge in 2007.

Ferguson holds an MS and PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon and a bachelor’s in computer science and mathematics from the University of Otago. He went on to become a senior research scientist at Intel and then developed machine learning trading strategies at Two Sigma, an investment firm.

Ferguson, who has been awarded more than 100 patents, eventually headed to Google’s self-driving program, now known as Waymo, serving as the machine learning and computer vision team lead.

TC Sessions: Mobility will present a day of programming with the best and brightest founders, investors and technologists who are determined to inventing a future Henry Ford might never have imagined. TC Sessions: Mobility aims to do more than highlight the next new thing. We’ll dig into the how and why, the cost and impact to cities, people and companies, as well as the numerous challenges that lie along the way, from technological and regulatory to capital and consumer pressures.

Nuro was founded in June 2016 by Ferguson and another former Google engineer, Jiajun Zhu. Nuro completed its first Series A funding round in China just three months later, in a previously unreported deal that gave NetEase founder Ding Lei (aka William Ding) a seat on Nuro’s board.

In February, Nuro hit the big leagues with a whopping $940 million in financing from the SoftBank Vision Fund, capital that will be used to expand its delivery service, add new partners, hire employees and scale up its fleet of self-driving bots. The startup has raised more than $1 billion from partners, including SoftBank, Greylock Partners  and Gaorong Capital.

Nuro’s focus has been developing a self-driving stack and combining it with a custom unmanned vehicle designed for last-mile delivery of local goods and services. The vehicle has two compartments that can fit up to six grocery bags each. Nuro’s aspirations don’t stop there.

A recent patent application details how its R1 self-driving vehicle could carry smaller robots to cross lawns or climb stairs to drop off packages. The company has even taken the step of trademarking the name “Fido” for delivery services.

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