Pennsylvania has become the 12th U.S. state to legalize autonomous delivery robots scooting around its cities' streets.
A bill was passed last month, which allows these robots to move around urban and suburban areas only if they weigh 550 lbs (249 kg) or under without cargo.
Companies like Amazon and FedEx have been pushing for such a bill, reports Wired, and it appears that in certain states these companies are getting their way.
Also known as Personal Delivery Devices (PDD), delivery robots in states such as Pennsylvania, which have legalized their use in specific parameters, are essentially now considered pedestrians.
These PDDs have to give the right of way to "real" pedestrians and cyclists.
The Pennsylvania bill, called SB 1199, appears to be less restrictive than other states'. For instance, PDDs can weigh up to 550 pounds (249 kg) in Pennsylvania, whereas in Washington state they can only go up to 120 pounds (54 kg). On the flip side, in Pennsylvania, they can scoot at speeds of up to 12 mph (19 km/h), whereas in Florida (which apparently has the least restrictive regulations around PDDs) it's 15 mph (24.4 km/h).
Not everyone is thrilled by this newly-passed bill. Eric Boerer, who is part of the bike-pedestrian advocacy group, Bike Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania told local paper Pittsburgh City Paper, "They are going to be on sidewalks with 12 mph. That is extremely fast."
"And in a city like Pittsburgh we have narrow sidewalks. Some of these things can be the size of a refrigerator. How are we going to get around that?"
Pennsylvania has decided that delivery robots are pedestrians. At first I thought, how offensive. But then I thought, but the first time some driver "kills" one of these expensive robots, the state might have to finally get serious about pedestrian safety. https://t.co/kLXUR4UcI6— Jim Charlier (@TheCharlier) December 3, 2020