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Arizona bill aims to allow robots to make deliveries

Posted at 7:56 PM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 21:57:17-05

An unlikely visitor is making a pit stop at the Arizona House of Representatives. It is a personal delivery robot, named 6D57 by Starship Technologies. 

The robot is a 55-pound electronic bot on wheels that can carry a load of up to 20 pounds.

"The device is a low mass, slow speed device with a very sophisticated bubble of situational awareness so it sees people before they see it," said David Catania, a spokesman for Starship Technologies.

The goal is to keep the delivery costs at under two dollars, thus making it a more cost-effective way for consumers to get their goods.

Arizona State Representative Kelly Townsend (R-16) who is now sponsoring a bill that would make it legal for the delivery robots to travel on our sidewalks said the technology first caught her eye when she saw it in action during a legislative conference. She even accompanied the bot around Washington, D.C. as it made food deliveries downtown.

"This is really neat, I thought this would be something really useful, especially in the Arizona summer,"  Townsend added.

Company officials said 6D57 was outfitted with nine cameras, GPS, multiple sensors, and programmed with artificial intelligence. While navigating around town, it'll actually get smarter as it explores new routes.

Catania called the device an "Uber for things."

"We send you a text letting you know when your order is ready. You're able to follow the device on your phone just like an Uber car, once it gets to your house we send you a text letting you know it's there. You go out, hit the link we sent you and it will unlock. You get your product and it goes back to it's home base," said Catania.

ABC15 asked if they worried about theft of items, or the delivery robot itself. 

Catania said the device would only unlock with a link sent to the person who ordered the product. If the device was stolen, they could track it down through the internal GPS installed within the robot. The sensors also had alarms that would go off and cameras the operators could follow.

The delivery robots are now legal in five states and Washington, D.C. The other states are Virginia, Wisconsin, Idaho, Ohio and Florida. 

Catania said they also had permits to operate in several California cities around the Silicon Valley.

The robots are also already making deliveries in the UK, Germany, Estonia and Switzerland.

The bill unanimously passed the House Transportation Committee today with a vote of 8 to 0.

Townsend said the next steps are the House Rules Committee and the Committee of the Whole.  If it passes, the bill is expected to make it to the Senate within the next two- to three-weeks.