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Special delivery: Nuro builds the future of autonomous robotics with a new Google transfer feature

Engineers that build last-mile delivery services belong to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. Delivery customers are incredibly demanding when it comes to speed and convenience, and the services they use must take variables like increased traffic, road conditions, human error, and even driver availability into account every day. 

Nuro is a company with a new approach to delivery services. Nuro has a fleet of autonomous vehicles designed to address many of the problems related to last-mile delivery. And every day, these vehicles — and their sensors — generate a lot of data before parking for the night. For Nuro engineers, that data can help them understand the impact of new on-road features, make improvements to their vehicles’ software, and ensure even better deliveries for their customers.

For Nuro, the key challenge is how to move petabytes of data as quickly, securely, and easily as possible from their edge environments, like vehicle depots, to Google’s Cloud Storage. For this delivery effort, Nuro selected Google’s Transfer Appliance with its new online transfer capability, now generally available. 

Helping Nuro to speed up data delivery from the edge to the cloud

Like many Google Cloud customers, Nuro collects data from remote environments, like vehicle depots, that have different networking and storage capabilities when compared to a traditional data center. For a transfer solution to be effective moving unstructured data from these environments to the cloud, the solution needs to be easy to deploy and automate, while still providing similar performance as a more complicated alternative.

The Transfer Appliance was built for this use case. It arrives to customers as a physical appliance with a preconfigured version of Google’s Storage Transfer Service software already installed. Customers can move files to the appliance by using SFTP or SCP, or, alternately, can mount the appliance as an NFS share and copy target. Data can be stored locally on the appliance or transferred over the network, and secure encryption — at-rest and in-flight — is enabled by default.

With these new appliances, Nuro will be able to automate much of their storage transfer needs. When their autonomous vehicles return to the depot, they can move data like software logs, LIDAR data, and sensor data — all ideal fits for Google’s Cloud Storage — from parked vehicles to the Transfer Appliance. Online transfers can then be performed throughout the day, ensuring a steady stream of valuable data in the cloud for developers to analyze and use in their nightly builds. All of this will help Nuro’s engineering leaders like Jie Pan to run more productive development teams with less operational overhead.

“Our autonomous vehicles generate a tremendous amount of useful data, and our goal is to get that data to our engineers as soon as possible,” said Jie Pan, Engineering Manager at Nuro. “When vehicles return to the depot, we can move data hourly into Cloud Storage over the network. We also have the flexibility to return the Transfer Appliance back to Google Cloud. Most importantly, this rapid transfer architecture gives a meaningful boost to engineering productivity and development velocity.”

Going the extra mile 

Engineering and infrastructure leaders understand the value of delivering the right data to the right teams, as fast as possible. By adding preconfigured, over-the-network transfer into a turnkey Transfer Appliance, Google Cloud customers can more easily automate these data deliveries by scheduling regular migrations of on-premises files, objects, and other unstructured data to our Cloud Storage.

As Nuro continues to grow their manufacturing and testing footprint, they plan to use Transfer Appliances to further scale and simplify their data migration from on-premises to Google Cloud. Cutting the time to migrate their data by more than half will make for happier, more productive developers, and that will help Nuro bring us all the future of delivery a little faster. 

If you’d like to learn more about Transfer Appliance and its new online transfer capability, click here or reach out to your Google Cloud account team.

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