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SF to craft rules for robot delivery services

March 2, 2017

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : SFExaminer – excerpt


Robot crossing the street with trainers.

Robots are roaming San Francisco’s sidewalks — one was even reportedly spotted rolling down Mission Street last week — but they may be moving around without laws in place to govern commercial sidewalk use.

That’s because such laws don’t yet exist, one city official is saying — not even the first of science-fiction author Isaac Asimov’s famous (and fictional) “Three Laws of Robotics,” to do humans no harm.

Supervisor Norman Yee is planning to call for new rules for delivery robots navigating the public right of way at the Board of Supervisors meeting today, the San Francisco Examiner has learned…

Ricardo Olea, an SFMTA city traffic engineer, wrote to Yee’s office, “We didn’t know anything about it,” when asked about the Dispatch robot, though he mentioned SFMTA does not have jurisdiction over sidewalks, which are the responsibility of San Francisco Public Works.

“It would be good to preempt this and create a policy that prevents the commercialization of the pedestrian right of way for automated goods movement,” Olea wrote. “One could easily see how this could get out of hand.”…(more)

SFMTA has responsibility in this matter because the robots cross city streets. I  have photos of one crossing with trainers. How safe is this? do robots act like pedestrians and cross at will anticipating that drivers will stop for them? How do they “see” and avoid hitting small people and bicycles, other robots? Can they be stolen or controlled by hackers and can they move dangerous substances? How does one know what they contain? SFMTA most definitely responsible for robots crossing the streets.


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