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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Autonomous Delivery Robots Now Hit Virginia's Streets

Autonomous delivery robots will now be able to travel on sidewalks, crosswalks and shared-use paths throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia this summer.

Governor  Terry McAullife recently signed a law permitting the use of Starship Technologies' Personal Delivery Devices, or PDDs. The six-wheeled robots, which resemble coolers, are designed to deliver parcels, groceries and food within a two-mile radius in 15-30 minutes.

They travel at 4 mph and posses aPDDs weigh about 40 pounds and can carry a workload of up to 20 pounds.They must display a plate or marker identifying their owner's name and contact information, as well as a unique identifier number. They must obey all traffic and pedestrian control devices and signs.

Transport of hazardous materials, substances or waste is not permitted under the new law he also stated. The PDDs, which run on rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, must have brakes. They can't weigh more than 50 pounds, or travel faster than 10 mph.

While the PDDs can travel autonomously, Virginia requires that a human operator actively control or monitor their navigation and operation. Starship's PDDs are controlled remotely through a fleet management app.

Virginia's law is the first in the United States to govern autonomous delivery robots. "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," noted Philip Solis, a research director at ABI Research.
"Therefore, new laws are required," he told TechNewsWorld.
Bills along similar lines reportedly have been proposed in Florida and Idaho.

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