Delivery robots could soon be rolling down sidewalks and up to people's doors in Wisconsin.
The state's Senate passed a bill on Tuesday to allow certain robots – referred to as "personal delivery devices" in the bill – to cruise around by themselves. The idea is that if you order something online, the bots could get smaller shipments to people quicker.
There are some conditions to keep the robots in line, though. They need to weigh less than 80 pounds, can't go faster than 10 mph, have to stick to sidewalks and crosswalks, and need to have someone watching and in control of them at all times. And just like everybody else, the bots must obey traffic signals.
That being said, there's an amendment in the bill to give robots the same right-of-ways pedestrians have. That means drivers would be expected to yield for them.
The bill – which still needs approval from the state's Assembly and governor before becoming law – wouldn't allow robots to just take over the whole state, though. It'd ultimately be up to local governments to decide whether or not they want to have the devices rolling around their sidewalks.
Wisconsin lawmakers who support delivery robots say this could cut costs and be more efficient. Others worry robots might take over jobs.
About the robot
If you're having a hard time picturing a world with robots strolling alongside people, check out this video. It shows the Starship Technologies robot, which is the same one that inspired Wisconsin lawmakers to make this bill.
Starship Technologies spokesman David Catania told the Associated Press that the company already has about 150 robots working around the world. And apparently they've already rolled 30,000 miles without injuring anyone.
Places the bots have been include Europe. California and Washington D.C. So far, they haven't made it to Minnesota.
And if you're worried robots will make it easier for thieves to steal your stuff, watch this video Buzzfeed made of them trying to rob one. Ultimately, they got in. But the company told the website it plans on installing alarms in future versions. A camera could also get a picture of the thief's face.