You may soon start seeing delivery robots on the sidewalk in Washington. It has actually become the eighth state in the country to allow the use of delivery robots on crosswalks and sidewalks. The bill has been signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee so it’s as official as it can be. Virginia was the first to allow delivery robots back in 2017 with states like Ohio, Utah, and Arizona making a similar decision later.
Such delivery robots are largely used for autonomous local and last-mile deliveries. They do help provide a boost to local businesses as those that don’t have a delivery infrastructure of their own can rely on the robots to make these short delivery trips.
This enables those businesses to compete with their online rivals that have well-established delivery networks. Another benefit that’s often touted is that of pollution. These robots are mostly electric powered.
The robots operate autonomously by relying on several technologies which include GPS, computer vision, and machine learning. They can map their own environment and navigate crowded areas with the ability to avoid obstacles. Some people do have concerns that putting these robots on sidewalks and crosswalks increases the risk to pedestrians. In the states where they have already been allowed, it seems there haven’t been any major safety incidents so far.
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