As tickled as you may be by the prospect of having little robots deliver your Seamless meals, Amazon orders, or other little luxuries to your doorstep, city governments don’t exactly share in your excitement. At least, it certainly wouldn’t seem that way considering the passage of new regulations in San Francisco that would limit the number of such delivery bots to a total of just nine in the city, and confine their delivery area to relatively unpopulated neighborhoods. Plus, these robots will be banned from going any faster than three miles per hour and will have to have a human monitor at all times (which seems to somewhat defeat the purpose).
To be fair, there are not all that many delivery robots out roaming the streets as it is. Most of these little machines are in the testing phase, and certainly aren’t a common sight … at least, not yet. But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wanted to make sure that if and when these delivery bots do become more popular, that they won’t become a nuisance, or worse yet, a public hazard.
Board Supervisor Norman Yee proposed the initial regulation, noting concerns around “bots essentially taking over city sidewalks.” As a result of the five-to-one vote, companies who make these robots will be limited to just three bots each, and they’ll have to act quickly to ensure that their three bots are part of the nine-bot citywide limit. And as for those unpopulated neighborhoods we mentioned earlier, the regulation actually limits the machines to industrial areas, which means that they probably won’t be able to deliver much to anybody at all.
Not everyone is thrilled about the city’s decision. As Bob Doyle, a spokesman for the Association for Advancing Automation Association told the San Francisco Chronicle, “To put such a strict limit on these types of autonomous delivery vehicles drastically slows down the process of testing and the potential for these being put into (use before) the general public.”