San Francisco to ban Starships?

The city government of San Francisco is considering banning delivery robots from using the city’s footpaths. While the city has been one of the epicentres of the development of the Starship Technologies delivery systems, it seems that the public itself may not have been so welcoming.

Norman Yee, a member of the San Francisco Board of Governors, proposed legislation that would exclude autonomous delivery robots from city’s sidewalks because they could present a threat to public safety.

“Our streets and our sidewalks are made for people, not robots,” Yee told local media. “This is consistent with how we operate in the city, where we don’t allow bikes or skateboards on sidewalks.”

Both Marble (which has been trialling a food delivery service with Yelp’s Eat24) and Starship have stressed that they have a strong commitment to safety. Starship added that it would “like to engage with the city to discuss the safe operation of delivery robots that benefit local businesses and residents.”

This would be a significant setback for the systems that have marketed themselves as being safer than airborne UAV drones. Their being too slow to use roads and being banned from the pavements, this would kill the systems off altogether in terms of their potential user friendliness. Birds of a feather flock together and other city governments could follow suit should the proposals become local law.  
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