|May 8, 2020 10:15 AM
|Senator Ryan P. Aument
|All Senate members
|Personal Delivery Devices
|Advances in “smart” and “autonomous” technologies have never been more important. The arrival of a global pandemic mandates the continued investment, creation and deployment of innovative technological tools and resources. Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) are the exact type of technological advancement that can help businesses and residents of the Commonwealth overcome the challenges of these unprecedented times.
At no other time in our nation’s history has it become more important for local, state and federal governments to work together to embrace technological innovations, including PDDs. Governmental cooperation is critical to assisting businesses, health systems and consumers react to and cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. Although Commonwealth residents are practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, the fact remains that those on the frontlines fighting the virus can't stay home and those mandated to stay home struggle with securing everyday essentials to remain healthy and sustain their families. Critically, PDDs can move and deliver groceries, take-out food, medications, and essential goods and supplies from government and businesses to our first responders, dedicated healthcare workers, nursing home employees, as well as to average consumers without human contact. PDDs are uniquely equipped to become a critical resource available to assist in our efforts to contain the spread of this highly infectious disease.
PDDs are autonomous robots designed to deliver packages to consumers and from business to business, within a small radius of approximately 3 miles. The zero emission robots reduce congestion and pollution through the use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and some public roadways. PDDs are safe, efficient, environmentally friendly, monitored 24/7, equipped with GPS to navigate around obstacles and are capable of handling steep slopes and curbs, steps, and are stable on all terrains.
Shortly, I will be introducing legislation that establishes the basic rules for the operation of PDDs in the Commonwealth. This legislation will include requirements that PDDs obey the rules that govern pedestrian-use of sidewalks, including waiting at crosswalks, yielding to vehicular traffic and foot traffic in front of them. Additionally, the legislation will establish equipment requirements that enhance public safety, such as requiring each robot to have a unique ID number, a braking system, visible lights, and other features to enhance the visibility and awareness of the PDDs. Finally, my legislation will specify that businesses operating PDDs must employ a remote monitor who can control the device if necessary and maintain liability insurance.
PDDs will compliment and supplement our human workforce while safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of the Commonwealth during a state and/or federal emergency.
To date, the states of Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin have enacted statutes allowing for the deployment and regulation of PDDs. PDDs have quickly become a useful resource to deliver food, medications and essential goods and supplies to people’s homes. PDDs make it easier for consumers to stay home and avoid community spread, which ultimately aids in the achievement of our goals to mitigate this highly infectious disease. Given the tremendous positive impact PDDs could have on Commonwealth, I hope you will join me as a co-sponsor of this legislation.
Introduced as SB1199