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San Francisco Trying To Ban Delivery Robots

San Francisco, which prides itself on being receptive to new technologies, is exploring legislation to ban delivery robots from the city’s streets and sidewalks due to public safety hazard.

San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee proposed a new legislation earlier this week that will ban autonomous delivery robots from city streets.

According to Yee, the small unmanned bots could be safety risks for children, people with disabilities and senior citizens who cannot maneuver quickly to avoid robots. The bots could also take jobs away from delivery people.

Yee said that he did not initially intend to ban delivery robots, but considered regulating them in some way. But after meeting with police and other agencies about regulating robots, he was forced to change the idea due to the difficulty in enforcing rules to regulate robots.

DoorDash, a restaurant delivery service, said in March that it will use Estonia-based Starship Technologies’ robots to deliver food in some California cities.

In April, Yelp’s Eat24 food-delivery service said it is delivering food to people in San Francisco neighborhoods using robots made by Marble. Marble and Dispatch, another bot maker, are both based in San Francisco.

Autonomous delivery robots detect the world around them with cameras and sensors. Marble’s four-wheeled robots employ advanced technology similar to self-driving cars, including on-board 3D laser scanners called lidars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors to better perceive the environment around them.

“We share Supervisor Yee’s commitment to safety. In fact, safety is at the core of everything that we do at Marble,” Marble said in a statement. The company noted that its slow-paced robots are always under the eye of a human operator.

Yee’s proposed ban comes even as states like Idaho and Virginia have legalized delivery robots.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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