Inside Dental Technology
July 2021
Volume 12, Issue 7


Driverless Cars and Drones Gain Momentum

Software and virtual communication can accomplish significant amounts of work for dental laboratories, but products fabricated in the laboratory still must be physically transported to dentists' offices. Could new technology help with shipping in the future?

In December 2020, Nuro received the first-ever Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit in California, enabling it to begin making autonomous deliveries with retail partners in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.1 In April, Domino's Pizza began using Nuro's R2 robot for pizza deliveries in Houston, Texas.2

Autonomous cars took another step toward widespread adoption last month as GM-backed Cruise obtained approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to operate self-driving cars with passengers on public roads.3 Cruise's prototype vehicles, which have been tested on the busy streets of San Francisco, California, since December 2020, are considered Level 4 (out of 5) on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, which means that they are limited in the areas where they can operate autonomously.3

Meanwhile, the use of drones continues to gain footing. Commercial drone use for deliveries and services took a significant step in December when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new regulations allowing the devices to fly over populated areas for the first time.4 The growth of Alphabet Inc.'s Wing, Amazon's Prime Air, and other services seeking to use mid-size drones for commercial services also led to the National Transportation Safety Board proposing in May to expand its purview to investigate mid-sized drone accidents.5

What does all this mean? In short, whether it is by land or by air, driverless delivery is getting closer and closer to becoming commonplace.


1. Nuro Receives the First Ever Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit from California DMV to Launch Self-Driving Delivery Service in the State. Globe Newswire. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/12/23/2150236/0/en/Nuro-Receives-the-First-Ever-Autonomous-Vehicle-Deployment-Permit-from-California-DMV-to-Launch-Self-Driving-Delivery-Service-in-the-State.html. Posted December 23, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021.

2. Lyons K. Nuro's self-driving robot will deliver Domino's pizza orders to customers in Houston. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/12/22379853/nuro-self-driving-robot-delivery-dominos-pizza-houston. Posted April 12, 2021. Accessed June 10, 2021.

3. Vijayenthiran V. Cruise driverless cars are now allowed to carry passengers in California. Motor Authority. https://www.motorauthority.com/news/1132494_cruise-driverless-cars-are-now-allowed-to-carry-passengers-in-california. Posted June 7, 2021. Accessed June 10, 2021.

4. Levin A. Drone-Crowded Skies Get a Step Closer With U.S. Safety Rules. Bloomberg News. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-28/civilian-drone-use-in-u-s-to-get-boost-in-new-security-rules. Posted December 28, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021.

5. Levin A. Likely Drone Delivery Growth Prompts NTSB to Expand Its Purview. Bloomberg News. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-20/likely-drone-delivery-growth-prompts-ntsb-to-expand-its-purview. Posted May 20, 2021. Accessed June 10, 2021.

New Meme Stock Involves Healthcare AI

Gamestop, AMC, and … a healthcare upstart using AI to help with clinical decision making? Yes, one of the latest stocks to be targeted by the WallStreetBets investor forum is Clover Health Investments.

While the stock’s 180% growth as of the second week of June was attributed in large part to investors attempting to counteract widespread shorting,1 Clover Health offers an interesting technology platform as part of its portfolio. The Clover Assistant combines patient data from doctors, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and pharmacies with socioeconomic factors to apply machine learning and provide an interface to help guide doctors in their clinical decision making.1

Whether this stock makes it to the moon or not, the concept of Clover Health’s AI application is certainly worth watching.


1. Hawthorne J. Forget AMC: Is Clover Health the New Reddit Stock That Will Make You Rich? The Motley Fool. https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/06/10/forget-amc-is-clover-health-the-new-reddit-stock-t/. Published June 10, 2021. Accessed June 10, 2021.

Apple Adds Secure Health Info Sharing

Apple last month previewed advanced consumer health and wellness insights for users, including the ability to securely share their data with doctors, as part of iOS 15. Users have full control over which data they share and with whom. For the person receiving this information, shared data is presented with important insights and trends highlighted. Data remains encrypted when in transit and while at rest on a user’s device when locked behind a passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID. The possibilities for future use in dentistry are intriguing to consider!

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