iRobot: Pennsylvania Legislators Legalize Delivery Robots Under Pedestrian Classification
December 4, 2020
Last month, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Senate Bill 1199 (the “Bill”), which will make it legal for autonomous delivery robots to utilize sidewalks and roadways throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The Bill amends Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which focuses on vehicles, and allows for Personal Delivery Device (“PDD”) to access pedestrian areas. Under the Bill a PDD is defined as a device that:
1. Is manufactured for transporting cargo and goods in a pedestrian area, trafficway or on
the berm or shoulder of a highway or roadway;
2. Is equipped with an automated driving system, including software and hardware;
3. Is not capable of exceeding a speed of 12 miles per hour in a pedestrian area or
4. Is not capable of exceeding a speed of 25 miles per hour on the berm or shoulder of a
highway or roadway; and
5. weighs less than 550 pounds without cargo and goods.
The Bill will likely drive innovation in the PDD space, but current players such as Postmates (who utilizes Serve robot), Starship Robots, and Marble will now have the ability to either introduce their services to the state or expand their current services. Regardless, these companies operating PDD’s will need to comply with the requirements of the Bill. Most importantly any company wishing to operate PDD’s within PA will need to ensure that they have a PDD Authorization (the “Permit”). The process for getting a Permit requires the company to submit an application with the state that includes several items, including but not limited to: i.) Company information; ii.) an operational plan; iii.) proof of liability insurance; iv.) an educational plan to bring public awareness to the particular PPD; and v.) a detailed accident procedure plan. In addition, this Permit must be maintained and changes to information supplied in the Permit process must be reported to the state.
Whether a company is looking to introduce a new PDD or expand the current services of an existing PDD, it is vital they comply with the regulatory structure set forth in the Bill as well as assess the risks & liabilities of deploying PDDs in pedestrian walkways and roadways. If any company needs assistance in evaluating the regulatory structure under the Bill, navigating the Permit process, or assessing the risks in deploying their PDD, our professionals in the Tech & Data practice group are available by phone and email to answer any of your questions.