(HARRISBURG) – Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 1199, legislation to assist businesses, health systems, and consumers in deploying innovative technological tools and resources to more effectively cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing basic rules for the operation of Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) in the Commonwealth, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ryan P. Aument (R-36).
PDDs are autonomous robots designed to deliver packages to consumers and from business to business, within a small radius of approximately 3 miles. The zero emission robots reduce congestion and pollution through the use of a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensors to travel on sidewalks and some public roadways. PDDs are safe, efficient, environmentally friendly, monitored 24/7, equipped with GPS to navigate around obstacles, and are capable of handling steep slopes and curbs, steps, and are stable on all terrains.
“Advances in smart and autonomous technologies have never been more important,” said Aument. “The arrival of a global pandemic mandates the continued investment, creation, and deployment of innovative technological tools and resources. Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) are the exact type of technological advancement that can help businesses and residents of the Commonwealth overcome the challenges of these unprecedented times.”
Senate Bill 1199 establishes the basic rules for the operation of PDDs in the Commonwealth, including requirements that PDDs obey the rules that govern pedestrian use of sidewalks, such as waiting at crosswalks and yielding to vehicular and foot traffic in front of them. Additionally, the legislation will establish equipment requirements that enhance public safety, such as requiring each robot to have a unique ID number, a braking system, visible lights, and other features to enhance the visibility and awareness of the PDDs. Finally, Senate Bill 1199 will specify that businesses operating PDDs must employ a remote monitor who can control the device if necessary and maintain liability insurance.
“At no other time in our nation’s history has it become more important for local, state, and federal governments to work together to embrace technological innovations, including PDDs,” said Aument. “Governmental cooperation is critical to assisting businesses, health systems, and consumers react to and cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. Critically, PDDs can move and deliver groceries, take-out food, medications, and essential goods and supplies from government and businesses to our first responders, dedicated healthcare workers, nursing home employees, and average consumers, all without human contact.”
Importantly, PDDs are expected to compliment and supplement the existing workforce while safeguarding public health, safety, and welfare, and even creating new jobs in fields like technology and operations.
To date, the states of Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin have enacted statutes allowing for the deployment and regulation of PDDs. Senate Bill 1199 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420