LOCAL NEWS

Delivery robots can now legally roam Washington sidewalks, with a permit

May 1, 2019, 2:39 PM

Dogs, squirrels, and people may soon have to start sharing Washington sidewalks with delivery robots.

This week Governor Inslee signed a bill into law that establishes regulations for personal delivery robots. The idea is to fill in a legal gray area for the robots, which seem to negotiate a legal space between motor vehicles and pedestrians, reports Geekwire.

RELATED: Got a permit for that delivery robot? Washington lawmakers consider rules

The new parameters for delivery robots restricts their weight, limits them to sidewalks, and requires human monitoring — likely so they don’t try to take over the world. It also requires them to have their own insurance, in case two of the delivery robots crash into each other and need to exchange information. Virginia, Idaho, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Utah, and Arizona all currently allow these types of devices on sidewalks.

Human deliverers have become a bit old fashioned for companies like Starship Technologies and Amazon. Starship is introducing delivery robots in multiple states, and Amazon recently began testing delivery robots on the streets in Snohomish County.

RELATED: Amazon’s plans for facial recognition doorbell concerns ACLU

Resembling a less-evolved version of R2-D2, Amazon Scouts are little six-wheeled self-driving robots that will be delivering packages to shoppers’ doorstops, and even have the ability to dodge pets and pedestrians and probably other Amazon Scouts. Amazon hasn’t solved the whole stairs issue as of yet, so residents would still have to come outside and grab the package after the robot opens its hatch.

The new law doesn’t give the robots any kind of robot civil rights — preventing people from attaching “Kick Me” signs to them or pushing them over — but if movies like I, Robot are an indication, that’ll be next.

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Delivery robots can now legally roam Washington sidewalks, with a permit