(HARRISBURG) – Today, the Pennsylvania Senate gave final approval to 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 business within a small radius of approximately 3 miles. 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.
Since the Senate originally passed the bill earlier this year, Senator Aument has continued to work with his colleagues in the House to gather input through an informational public hearing on PDDs hosted by Representative Tim Hennessey (R-26), chairman of the House Transportation Committee. As such, the bill has been amended to reflect recommendations from the hearing to improve aspects of the proposal, including, but not limited to:
- Expanding the application and renewal process to include more specific requirements;
- Limiting PDDs to operating on the berm or shoulder of a roadway, unless one is unavailable;
- Requiring authorized entities to send a notice to a municipality prior to the initial operation of the PDD;
- Establishing numerous equipment standards;
- Allowing PennDOT to revoke a PDD authorization for a violation that resulted in serious bodily injury, death, or property damage; and
- Creating a new penalty structure and increasing the fines for violations up to $1,000.
“From the outset, my goal with this bill was not only to create reasonable safety guidelines for this new technology, but also to solicit feedback from constituents and stakeholders regarding the most effective way to do that” said Aument. “To that end, I’m pleased that the suggestions and feedback we received were incorporated into the final version of the bill in the form of an amendment offered by my colleague in the House, Representative Meghan Schroeder (R-29). This is how the legislative process is supposed to work, and it was a pleasure to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to improve this bill and get it to the Governor’s desk.”
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 Governor for his consideration.
CONTACT: Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420