Virginia passes a law to allow delivery robots on the streets. In a recent law, signed by Governor Terry McAullife, the use of Personal Delivery Devices (PDD) has now been permitted. The law states that the PDDs should weigh no more than 50 pounds, have a top speed of 10 mph.
They must operate on rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries, have brakes and must always be operated by a human. The PDDs should obey all traffic and pedestrian control devices and signs. For identification purposes, they must have a plate with the name and contact of the owner and must also have a device-specific unique identifier number.
Although the transport of parcels and groceries is allowed, transporting hazardous material or waste of any kind is prohibited. These robots will use the sidewalks, crosswalks and shared-use paths throughout Virginia.
The primary supplier of these PDDs will be Starship Technologies. Their PDDs fall well within the boundaries defined by the state: they weigh 40 pounds, move at up to 4 mph and can be used to carry around 20 pounds worth food items or luggage.
The operating span would be up to a 2-mile radius from the point of deployment and the PDDs would complete the trips in 15 – 30 minutes. The PDDs will be controlled through a fleet management app. The PDDs are able to move autonomously, however, due to the law, will have human operators.
Most states have laws prohibiting moving vehicles on sidewalks, but they didn’t take into account slow-moving autonomous mobile robots when they were written, Therefore, new laws are required
said a research director at ABI Research, Philip Solis. But Virginia is not the only state pursuing the assistance of robots in the daily lives of its residents. Similar plans have been proposed in states such as Idaho and Florida.