According to a report from the SF Examiner, legislation introduced by Supervisor Norman Yee banning delivery robots has taken another step towards becoming law on Wednesday night. The legislation was brought before the Board's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, who voted 2-1 to bring the legislation to the entire Board. Per the Ex, Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Sandra Fewer voted yes, while Supervisor Jeff Sheehy voted against sending it to the full Board.
They spoke with Supervisor Fewer about her vote in favor of the ban. She said, "My seniors in my neighborhood are already having a difficult time navigating their sidewalks," referring to the Richmond. In an interview with Recode from May, Yee expressed a similar belief, saying that "sidewalks are made for people, not robots." He then drew comparisons between the robots and self-propelled forms of transportation, saying, "This is consistent with how we operate in the city, where we don’t allow bikes or skateboards on sidewalks.”
Their fears regarding safety may not be all that unfounded, either. Last July, a Knightscope autonomous security robot ran over a toddler's foot at Stanford Shopping Center. A later report from the company said that the machine tried to avoid the child at first, but stopped when it couldn't. Still, they apologized for what they called a "freakish accident." Following that, just over a year later, a Knightscope security robot drove itself into a fountain outside an office building in Washington, D.C., according to Slate. Both of these "hiccups" resulted in a litany of criticism regarding autonomous robots, and while the technology used in these security bots differs from those used in the delivery bots on San Francisco sidewalks, they still serve as evidence that there's so much to work to be done before the technology can be deployed en masse.