Virginia has become the first state in the US to permit delivery robots to traverse its sidewalks and crosswalks, thus opening the door for all sorts of innovation in the unmanned delivery space.
The legislation, sponsored by lawmakers Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph, was drafted with the help of robotics delivery company Starship Technologies. It was signed into law last Friday and goes into effect July 1 according to Re/code.
As per the legislation, ground-based delivery robots must keep their speed under 10 miles per hour and cannot exceed 50 pounds in weight. What’s more, unlike aerial drones, they aren’t required to operate within line-of-sight of a human operator although they must be supervised remotely.
Villanueva told the publication that they didn’t experience pushback from legislators. Instead, it was more like intrigue and curiosity about the technology, what the application would be and how it would benefit citizens, he said.
Although Starship Technologies helped with the legislation, companies like Amazon and Grubhub also reportedly sent letters of support in hopes of getting the law passed.
It’s worth noting that local city councils will have some say in the matter. For example, they can impose a lower speed limit or ban robotic deliveries entirely if they become a nuisance.
Florida and Idaho look to be the next states in line to pass similar legislation.