San Francisco Tough On Robotic Delivery Startups

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors just threw up a roadblock for startups that want to test delivery robots this week. The committee voted five to one to slap the cargo robots with strict regulations.

Supervisor Norman Yee, who originally proposed was concerned about the robots dominating the sidewalks.

“Maybe five years from now, when we have 20,000 robots roaming around on the streets and people have to walk on the streets with the cars,” Yee said to the Board. “Maybe then we’ll do something. That seems to be a problem we have in San Francisco, and I don’t want to let things get out of hand again.”

Things don’t look ideal for the startups pioneering robotic delivery services, despite the fact that language that began as an outright ban has softened to restrictions.

According to the new regulations, a company will be limited to three robots a piece, with nine total robots allowed for the entire city. Beyond that, the bots will be used in low-population industrial areas, which is not where most items are ordered.

Not only that, they will need constant human monitoring and won’t be allowed to travel more than three miles an hour, both of which make much of their intended use impossible. Supporters of the law were worried about a flood of robots, and danger to children and the elderly that speedy bots may have brought.