They're not quite the Mars rover, but these Earth-based robots provide a service of a different sort: delivery. London-based Starship Technologies, already piloting robot delivery services in the District of Columbia and Redwood City, California, and elsewhere across the globe, has now won that right in Virginia. Come this summer, the Old Dominion state will be the nation's first to codify the rights of the so-called "electric personal delivery device." Idaho, Florida, and other states are also mulling legislation similar to the robot package Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliff just signed.
These wheeled robots—or call them land-based drones if you want—have a clear leg up on aerial-drone delivery services envisioned by Google, Amazon, and others. Air delivery brings with it a more scrutinized regulatory process and heightened safety standards. Research firm Gartner said in a report last month that drone delivery "will not be a major factor for several years."
But the sidewalk-based drone delivery market, however, appears to be shifting into gear, or at least into first gear. Take a look at Virginia's definitions and rules for personal delivery robots, which apply to all companies, not just Starship Technologies:
from I am robot, here’s your pizza