Well, not really a takeover BUT yes, you will start to see more of these food delivery bots prowling the streets.
San Francisco banned delivery robots from most city streets in December, but included some exceptions for testing autonomous courier bots in limited areas. On Tuesday however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 to begin the permitting process and told robot companies what they’ll have to pay. This means that developers will have to pay a pretty penny to get their bots fulling rolling out for testing purposes.
Here is an idea of you can expect from these little walking computers:
The following fees shall be established for Autonomous Delivery Device Testing permits:
• Application fees: for one device – $860; for two devices – $1,540; and for three devices – $1,995;
• Permit.extension fees: for one device – $555; for two devices – $101; and for three devices -$1,465; and
• For Referrals to Department of Public Health: The Department of Public Health may charge up to $191 per hour for referrals sent by Public Works.
Though most developers agree that these fee’s are semi-ridiculous stating that the testing of these bots aren’t left alone and are completely walked through with staff present. Supervisor Norman Yee originally wanted to ban all such devices from public byways, telling Recode in 2017, “Our sidewalks are made for people, not robots.” Though aren’t there bigger problems to think about? Yes, sidewalks are for people… But when most of those people are homeless and aren’t getting the help from city officials, maybe they should rethink their priorities…
Tuesdays vote was not final and developers hoping to test will also be allowed a 180 day permit (6 months) with the request of adding extending days. Supervisor Malia Cohen also stepped into the debate with this nugget: “These bots on the streets, it’s the future, we need to figure out how we’re going to start to regulate and enforce regulations on autonomous vehicles on sidewalks,” said Cohen, adding, “This is important.” Is it? Time will tell and digress on the “issue” will certainly sway.
// For now, as everyone is gathering their permits and their paperwork, you’ll start to see various testing groups around the Mission, Marina, and part of SoMa. Photo via WiRED, art created by Anthony Rogers.