Austin Council Approves Autonomous Delivery Robot Resolution (Updated)
Moments ago the Austin City Council unanimously (with Mayor Steve Adler and Council Members Pio Renteria and Greg Casar off the dais) approved a resolution authorizing the City Manager to allow deployment of sidewalk-based personal delivery robot demonstration projects within the city limits of Austin, under conditions determined by the City Traffic Engineer.
Under the resolution (LINK) the program runs for two years (lining up with the next Texas Legislative Session in 2019) and requires the “personal delivery devices” to:
Only operate on City of Austin owned sidewalks and crosswalks;
Be capable of operating autonomously.
Have a maximum speed of 10 mph; and
Weigh no more than 300 pounds, excluding cargo;
All proposals would be discussed and presented to the Urban Transportation Commission (though that board serves an advisory role).
Currently there are no fees attached to proposed pilots, but the idea was touched on by Council Member Casar. He questioned the City's ability to potentially add them during the two-year period or following. In either case his sentiment was to provide some form of benefits to delivery workers who, in the short-term could be impacted. Robert Spillar, City of Austin Transportation Director, noted that following the pilot period a fee determination would be at the Council's discretion.
While it appears Starship Technologies was the driver of the resolution, Director Spillar emphasized the resolution was a call to the autonomous delivery industry. Starship Technologies is ready to make an unsolicited proposal according to Director Spillar, but under the resolution the city can conduct multiple pilots with different companies.