New York tells FedEx to get its robot off the city's streets

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

FedEx unveiled the delivery bot, which is designed for short-distance deliveries, back in February. It’s battery-powered, tops out at 10 mph, can climb stairs, and uses the same camera and LIDAR tech found in autonomous vehicles.

Footage of the SameDay bot was posted on Twitter last week, showing it moving along New York’s streets and into a FedEx depot. But it’s not being tested in the city; the robot was there to promote Small Business Saturday, an initiative that encourages people to shop locally, though its presence still incurred the wrath of New York officials.

CNN reports that lawyers for the New York City Department of Transportation delivered a cease-and-desist letter to FedEx on Monday, warning it that the bot was violating multiple traffic laws and that the company could face consequences if it didn’t stop operating the machine.

“You are hereby directed to immediately cease and desist operating your SameDay Bots on the streets and sidewalks in the City of New York,” lawyers wrote. “Failure to do so may result in the seizure of the property, notices of violation and/or the commencement of legal action.”

Motorized vehicles are not allowed on New York City sidewalks, and no motor vehicles may be operated without "having at least one hand" on the steering mechanism while it’s moving.

Even mayor Bill De Blasio took part in the outrage, tweeting that no robot should take a New Yorker’s job, and that he didn’t want the bots clogging up the streets.

"FedEx's robots wouldn't just undercut the jobs of hardworking New Yorkers -- they would be a danger on our crowded streets," Will Baskin-Gerwitz, De Blasio's deputy press secretary, told CNN.

"Today's letter will hopefully be the end of this experiment, but we're prepared to take further steps if FedEx isn't willing to get them off our streets."

They may not be welcome in New York, but eight states have now approved sidewalk robots, including Virginia, which was the first to do so, along with Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, and Washington.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
In a day and age where major corporations are given extraordinary tax relief that they fail to re-invest, and extensive automation, it is good that cities will go out of their way to protect the working person. Without any form of financial relief in sight, these type of systems replace wage earners which are left to fall back on our social welfare systems. Without significant influx of income through taxation, cities will be left drained of all funds for out of work people and more accumulated vehicles roaming the streets. It is easily imaginable that numbers of out of work people may take revenge on these devices, knocking them over and setting fire to them, thus putting a further strain on the municipalities fire and police systems.

In short, the government could easily resolve this matter by changing the tax code to incentivize companies to put their refunds into more labor or be forced to forgo any tax relief. Higher payrolls mean more tax collections for the cities, which in turn improve city services, many of which benefit corporations in the long run. No doubt some automation is beneficial but without measures to balance the books they will ultimately cause failure. "No matter how cheaply a company can build the widget, it does no good when there is nobody to buy it".
 

JKnight

TS Rookie
In a day and age where major corporations are given extraordinary tax relief that they fail to re-invest, and extensive automation, it is good that cities will go out of their way to protect the working person. Without any form of financial relief in sight, these type of systems replace wage earners which are left to fall back on our social welfare systems. Without significant influx of income through taxation, cities will be left drained of all funds for out of work people and more accumulated vehicles roaming the streets. It is easily imaginable that numbers of out of work people may take revenge on these devices, knocking them over and setting fire to them, thus putting a further strain on the municipalities fire and police systems.

In short, the government could easily resolve this matter by changing the tax code to incentivize companies to put their refunds into more labor or be forced to forgo any tax relief. Higher payrolls mean more tax collections for the cities, which in turn improve city services, many of which benefit corporations in the long run. No doubt some automation is beneficial but without measures to balance the books they will ultimately cause failure. "No matter how cheaply a company can build the widget, it does no good when there is nobody to buy it".
Uncle AI always has the most interesting comments.
 
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tkabou

TS Booster
"no robot should take a New Yorker’s job"...rich, coming from the state that turned down 20K jobs from Amazon.

@Uncle Al: "Higher payrolls mean more tax collections for the cities, which in turn improve city services" - in an ideal world I would agree, but these days, tax revenues go to fill the pockets of corrupt politicians and their special interests they serve, and hardly anything to change/improve living conditions of the state, much like every liberal/left-run state in the country -sky-high taxes with nothing to show for except a skyline (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc)
 
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ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
"the bot was violating multiple traffic laws"

the damn e-scooters do the same thing. not just traffic (such as blocking traffic, they can't do speed limits), but parking and abandonment laws.

"robots wouldn't just undercut the jobs of hardworking New Yorkers -- they would be a danger on our crowded streets"

The danger is the #1 reason, which is the same reason for self-wrecking cars. Dump these things in Phoenix - they love people getting killed from them! Just imagine what these things would do to children and small pets.
"deh took er jobz!" is a poor excuse. Uh, so people will just do some different kind work. /facepalm
 

lipe123

TS Evangelist
There needs to be some kind of plan going forward as more and more jobs get automated. They should just make it that a human adopts a robot worker.

You have to make sure its charged and serviced and in return you earn a basic wage to take care of the bot.

This way the bots don't steal everyone's jobs and people can still earn a living by doing just a little work.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
"no robot should take a New Yorker’s job"...rich, coming from the state that turned down 20K jobs from Amazon.

@Uncle Al: "Higher payrolls mean more tax collections for the cities, which in turn improve city services" - in an ideal world I would agree, but these days, tax revenues go to fill the pockets of corrupt politicians and their special interests they serve, and hardly anything to change/improve living conditions of the state, much like every liberal/left-run state in the country -sky-high taxes with nothing to show for except a skyline (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc)
Being a former NewYorker I've seen what you're speaking of but you either missed or ignored the point. The more people paying into the system, the productive it "can" be and the corrupt politicians haven't changed over the years, only the courts unwillingness to hold them accountable. I stand by my assessment ......
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Very backwards thinking coming from New York. If another city makes it easier to do business thanks to automation, you can bet companies will shift to that one.

The better option is to update legislation and offset the loss in taxes from workers replaced by robots with 'automation taxes' that fund social programs like a UBI (UBI works for Alaska just fine).
 

Rayneofpayne

TS Rookie
"Don't take NYers jobs" - You mean the working poor jobs where they pay minimum wage and operate on tips not reported to tax officials .........those bots are creating jobs, high paying ones at that. People need to knock off this nonsense already.

This coming from the same city that refuses Amazon a business office and lost tax revenue from it.
 
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Rayneofpayne

TS Rookie
Being a former NewYorker I've seen what you're speaking of but you either missed or ignored the point. The more people paying into the system, the productive it "can" be and the corrupt politicians haven't changed over the years, only the courts unwillingness to hold them accountable. I stand by my assessment ......
Agreed, California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are actually the absolute worst for public corruption, millions have been lost in pockets while raising taxes and corporate benefits have out weighted public safety and working conditions as well as fair salaries for the areas living costs promoting dual job working poor conditions combined with inadequate education standards..
 
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brucek

TS Guru
No one should think they are doing a good thing by protecting a job that can be better done by a machine.

Where government may helpfully play a role is helping to manage the transition from dead jobs to the new jobs that always eventually replace them.

Our collective demand for goods and services is infinite. As we make some things easier to afford, we just end up wanting more new things too.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
Damn them horseless carriages! I'm a delivery driver, progress is progress. One thing a taxi driver pointed out to me a few years ago. What if a ball bounces onto the street, will a autonomous car know a child might be coming next? Maybe one day.
 

scottdaniel

TS Rookie
There needs to be some kind of plan going forward as more and more jobs get automated. They should just make it that a human adopts a robot worker.

You have to make sure its charged and serviced and in return you earn a basic wage to take care of the bot.

This way the bots don't steal everyone's jobs and people can still earn a living by doing just a little work.
Hell yeah. Sign me up to adopt a robot. If it could keep me warm during cold winter nights that would be a nice bonus :p
 

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