Virgina has become the first US to legalise the use of delivery robots in a new bill, SB 1207. The legislation, will come into force on the 1st of July 2017.
The new bill allows for the operation of electric delivery robots in pedestrian areas such as paths, pavement an alows them to cross roads on crosswalks. It also specifically stipulates that delivery robots are not considered to be vehicles and are exempt from normal motor car laws.
A manufacture of delivery robots, Starship Technologies, assisted in the drafting of the new Bill. Starship ‘Personal Delivery Devices’ could soon be delivering parcels, groceries and food and have a two mile operating radius.
A two mile radius might seem a little small, but similar to how UPS propose using a delivery truck as a mobile base station for drones, Starship have partnered with Mercedes to build a Robovan, a vehicle which will act as a mothership carrying up to eight starship delivery robots into a local area where they can be unleashed to complete deliveries.
Quite how this will work out in reality has yet to be seen and as with drones it’s obvious that Personal Delivery Devices won’t be suitable for all areas. One immediate drawback is of course you need to be at home to retrieve your delivery from the delivery robot. Of course they could also be used to collect returns as well and waiting in for your robot to arrive is no more onerous than waiting in for a courier to arrive. The key will be advance notifications of the time slot you can expect your delivery or collection to take place.