While not often given credit for being the most forward thinking place in the U.S., Virginia is getting out ahead of the innovation scene by being the first place in the U.S. where delivery robots are legal. Many sources are erroneously reporting that Virginia is the first “state” to legalize delivery robots — but that is a bit less than correct. Virginia (like Massachusetts, Kentucky and Pennsylvania) is not a state.
It’s a commonwealth.
And now it’s a commonwealth with delivery robots.
Governor Terry McAuliff has officially signed a ruling which will allow delivery robots to use its sidewalks and crosswalks as of July 1st.
Advised by Estonian robotic company Starship Technologies, the legislation allows for bots that travel no faster than ten miles per hour, or weigh over 50 pounds. If the bot meets those requirements, it may roam free — or free-ish. In an attempt to stave off the robot apocalypse and a possible Matrix situation — or just to reduce auto accidents and other unfortunate collisions — the law will require that the bots be closely monitored remotely by their delivery company parent.
The state has also confirmed that the legislation can be amended by local councils or even overturned completely if it becomes too problematic.
Amazon and Grubhub also sent letters to Virginia’s governor in support of the law, though they will not benefit as directly or as quickly as Starship Tech. Companies like Marble and Dispatch have also confirmed that they are working to bring their own autonomous bots to sidewalks.
Will the rest of the nation follow suit? Hard to say — Virginia did produce 3/4 of the nation’s first 4 leaders, which speaks well for the state’s leadership qualities. Of course, the last thing Virginia really led the charge on something, it was the Confederacy’s effort to leave the Union, so their track record is mixed.
But the bots, it seems, are coming — and Virginia is where they’re starting. We’ll keep you updated on their progress.