Postmates lands first-ever permit to test sidewalk delivery robots in San Francisco

TechCrunch | 8/7/2019 | Staff
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On-demand delivery business Postmates says it’s been granted the first-ever permit for side-walk robotics operations in the city of San Francisco.

According to San Francisco Public Works, the permits are active for 180 days and authorize the testing of up to three autonomous delivery devices. We’ve reached out to the Public Works department for comment.

Postmates - San - Francisco - Supervisor - Norman

Postmates has been working alongside San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee, labor and advocacy groups to develop a framework for sidewalk robotics since 2017. The issuance of the permit makes San Francisco one of the first cities to formally allow companies to test autonomous delivery robots under a new pilot program.

Previously, companies were testing autonomous robots in various San Francisco streets sans permits, until the city voted to ban street robots from testing without official government permits akin to the electric-scooter saga of 2018.

Cities - Approach - Deployment - Rights - Way

“We’ve been eager to work directly with cities to seek a collaborative and inclusive approach to robotic deployment that respects our public rights of way, includes community input, and allows cities to develop thoughtful regulatory regimes,” a representative of Postmates said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

Postmates semi-autonomous sidewalk rover, Serve, was unveiled in December. Using cameras and lidar to navigate sidewalks, Serve can carry 50 pounds for up to 25 miles after one charge. Postmates has a human pilot remotely monitoring the Serve fleets and each rover has a “Help” button, touchscreen and video chat display for customers or passers-by to use if necessary. The company originally said they planned to roll out the bots in 2019, though no pilots have been officially announced yet.

Postmates - Delivery - Robot - Serve

Postmates semi-autonomous delivery robot, Serve.

Postmates says they’ve made a number...
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