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San Francisco To Restrict Goods Delivery Robots (bbc.com) 114

San Francisco officials have voted to restrict where delivery robots can go in the city, in a blow for the burgeoning industry. From a report: Start-ups will have to get permits to use such bots, which will be restricted to less crowded urban areas. Opponents are concerned about the safety of pedestrians, particularly elderly people and children. Walk San Francisco, a group that campaigns for pedestrian safety, wanted a complete ban. A range of companies have begun trialling small robots that can deliver food and other goods. They use sensors and lasers in a similar way to self-driving cars in order to navigate their routes. Robotics company Marble - which describes its machines as "friendly, neighbourhood robots" - began testing in San Francisco earlier this year.

San Francisco To Restrict Goods Delivery Robots

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  • by yodleboy ( 982200 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @11:44AM (#55695793)

    California, and SF in particular never came across something they couldn't restrict. Except wildfires apparently.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by beachmike ( 724754 )
      Illegal aliens are one of the few things California and San Fran refuse to restrict.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Illegal aliens are one of the few things California and San Fran refuse to restrict.

        So you're complaining that California and San Francisco are following the Constitution? States have no control over immigration, that's quite clearly spelled out as Federal Authority, not State or Municipal. In fact, it's quite well documented that the writers of the Constitution, not to mention those who wrote the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were troubled for the potential for abuse that would cause, because even actual citizens could have their liberties constrained and impaired.

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1@hotmail.cGAUSSom minus math_god> on Thursday December 07, 2017 @11:44AM (#55695795)
    One thing I love about SF supervisors and government offices! They focus on the important things that touch everyone, like food delivery robots. Not those pesky little problems that only affect a few people, like housing policies, transportation policies, tax policies. These are the things that matter, right on, good job!
    • You used the plural when referring to supervisors and government offices. This implies that there's more than one of each. This means that different people can focus on different things, and the government is not limited to dealing with the list of issues that have gotten under your particular skin.

      Given the current situation, is it wise to allow robots wander around busy streets without restriction? Or could there be possible undesirable consequences? How much experience do we have with these robots

    • They just like going after the low-hanging fruit so that they claim to be doing their jobs.

      Housing and transportation are difficult problems to solve. Maybe they've assigned some experts to work on the difficult problems, who will take a couple years to come up with some potential plans. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if they just decided that the problems were too difficult to solve, so they won't bother trying.

      Did you notice that they went with the easiest possible response to the issue of del
      • Housing and transportation are difficult problems to solve. Maybe they've assigned some experts to work on the difficult problems, who will take a couple years to come up with some potential plans. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if they just decided that the problems were too difficult to solve, so they won't bother trying.

        Welcome, Time Traveler!

        I see you are from a time long passed, when Califonia politicians, bureaucrats, and officials were, for the most part, simply petty, egotistical thieves, and not too bright.

        Today's leaders are simply using their positions any way they can to grow their fiefdom and thus the amount and value if the influence they can sell while on ideological crusades to further their party's agendas using any means they can get away with.

        Hopefully your time machine will allow you to escape back to your

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @11:50AM (#55695837)

    Having a bunch of motorized wheeled vehicles driving around on the sidewalks is a bad idea. Even if they don't hit anyone, they will create congestion and confusion.
    Confine them to the streets.

    • I think they would have to use the streets anyways as the sidewalks in parts of the city are full of tents or other makeshift dwellings for homeless people. Some of them would have no issues with stealing from delivery robots and there isn't a lot the police would do about it.
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I think the homeless would appreciate free deliveries of food from passing robots. Unfortunately, the robot pictured in the article looks like it would be difficult to get into without a crowbar. Probably need to outlaw crowbars.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Having a bunch of motorized wheeled vehicles driving around on the sidewalks is a bad idea. Even if they don't hit anyone, they will create congestion and confusion. Confine them to the streets.

      Any more than strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, bicycles, skateboards, rolling suitcases, beggars, street musicians and so on? I think this sounds like a really premature ban on something that might become a problem one day if they become popular and clog up the sidewalks during rush hour. I know our local hospital uses somewhat similar bots for internal medicine delivery, food delivery, laundry delivery etc. sharing corridors and elevators with patients and staff. It doesn't seem to be a problem for neither

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I don't think it takes too much imagination to see these as a problem in cities. Good suggestion on "cow tipping". Some people may take this "solution" on their own initiative. Cow tipping and a crowbar could be a new path to unlimited free food.
        I believe that bicycles and skateboards are already banned in congested areas. Strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, rolling suitcases, beggars, and street musicians are legitimate pedestrian non-motorized activities (I think we need to give motorized wheelchairs a pass.

      • Bicycles are legally classified as vehicles (but not motor vehicles), and should use normal traffic lanes on the street if no separate bicycle lane is available. Some local laws may allow cycling on the sidewalk, sometimes for minors only. It may also be allowed if the sidewalk is explicitly marked as a multi-use path, or is provided with a marked sidewalk-level bike lane. But normally bicycles are supposed to use the road.

    • Let's see, a car vs. a delivery robot? I think the robot causes less congestion.
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        Cars and trucks don't drive on the sidewalk.

        • True enough. I'd be inclined to put the robot on the street instead but that's just me.

          Thing is, the sidewalks in SF are often really crowded and a total mess. That seems the hardest place in the world to unleash a robot. If it were me, I'd start somewhere much easier to navigate. But maybe the two go hand in hand. You need lots of busy people who value convenience, are comfortable with technology, have the cash to pay for delivery, and are crowded together. Would Chicago be better? Boston and NYC are othe

  • Now that everyone on the streets seems to be an UBER [slashdot.org] driver, it takes forever to get anywhere in SF. With one person to a car, driving around aimlessly half of the time waiting for the fair that takes them home, the roads are completely packed.

    Robots are sure to fix this when everyone buys a personal robot for driving and picking up food. Who needs to leave their house?

    --
    "Purple Rain, Purple Rain" - Prince

  • If San Francisco really cared about public safety, they would ban illegal aliens instead of welcoming them as an illegal "sanctuary city." But NO, technological innovation such as delivery robots are what these liberal/progressive knuckleheads are focused on.
    • If San Francisco really cared about public safety, they would ban illegal aliens instead of welcoming them as an illegal "sanctuary city." But NO, technological innovation such as delivery robots are what these liberal/progressive knuckleheads are focused on.

      Typical know everything youngin'! It jerks like you that don't have to pay robot attack insurance [nbc.com] that's ruining it for us old folks! ;)

    • If San Francisco really cared about public safety, they would ban illegal aliens

      [citation needed]

  • âoeOpponents are concerned about the safety of pedestrians, particularly elderly people and children. Walk San Francisco, a group that campaigns for pedestrian safety, wanted a complete ban.â

    Yeah, theyâ(TM)ll be much safer with UPS and fedex trucks driving around.

  • Luddite
    [luhd-ahyt]
    noun
    1.
    a member of any of various bands of workers in England (1811–16) organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment.
    2.
    someone who is opposed or resistant to new technologies or technological change.

    • Yup, but Luddite is not a good term for a city that decided to allow potentially dangerous new things in less busy areas of the city.

  • Anybody who remembers "Segway will transform entire cities" (followed by ban) should have seen this coming.

    Delivery robots are an idiotic idea anyway. Imagine I'm a disaffected teenager and I see a delivery robot coming down the sidewalk. List my options.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      1. Crowbar
      2. (there is no step 2)
      3. Profit!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Imagine I'm a disaffected teenager and I see a delivery robot coming down the sidewalk. List my options.

      Being tasered on the balls if you get too close. Heh, that would be cool! heh, heh...

  • by trenobus ( 730756 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @12:20PM (#55696143)

    Delivery bots use much of the same hardware and software as self-driving cars, but have market pressures toward lower cost. If they are mass-produced, this will bring down the cost of self-driving cars to the point where even economy cars can be self-driving. Also the AI problem that delivery bots face is arguably more difficult than a self-driving car, in that pedestrian traffic is much less regulated. So they might also drive advances in machine learning from which self-driving cars will benefit.

    On the other hand, if delivery bots start injuring a lot of people, the backlash may extend to self-driving cars as well.

    • I predict that the future will include more self-driving vehicles designed to carry delivery bots than those designed to carry people. The bots will be taken to the delivery location by a vehicle, roll or walk off on their own to take the product to the door or even to the person, and return to the vehicle. People will even be able to receive deliveries in parks. You could be sitting in a park and order a meal to be delivered to your picnic table.

  • They may find that the robots will require protection from pedestrians. I can imagine irate people having been (almost) run over or shoved/scared out of the way might react somewhat aggressively towards a robot and any subsequent robots that they meet. After all, they're machines, not people with feelings and rights that can apologise and make amends.

    I can also see municipalities being put under pressure to put up barriers to restrict their access to some areas. Not sure how that'd affect people who need to

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      There will likely be a "how am I driving?" QR code on them. They will go at a low enough speed that they can stop on a dime, and will be coded to stop if it would collide with something. Even if it's not human, it IS illegal (property damage) to damage it (which has a camera and network connection.)

  • if not more dangerous. There are more than 1.25 million road traffic deaths globally each year: http://www.who.int/gho/road_sa... [who.int] . Millions more are badly wounded.

    SF chose a cheap conservative PR, instead of making a serious effort of ending this WW3 on roads.
    • Yes, but we're used to those. This is new and therefore scary.

    • fallacy, what percent of cars are delivery cars? the deaths due to delivery cars are nearly zero.

  • Anyone want some nearly new robots or parts? These are "overstock demo" units. At these low, low prices, there's no warranty, and serial numbers have been removed for your convenience. We occasionally have self driving cars and parts, too!
  • Everybody else better sleep with one eye open. We're the expendables.

  • Think about that.

    Does nobody else ever write Dystopian SF?

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday December 07, 2017 @01:45PM (#55696925)
    San Francisco? What if the robot is a transsexual gluten free vegetarian carbon neutral robot with a hipster beanie on its head and also has cupholders for Starbucks drinks?
  • Integrate a living creature, e.g. a rat, or even an insect, and it is then technically a cyborg. Cyborgs are not robots.
  • They're concerned about pedestrians? That's an even better reason to allow robots! Tell me, have you *ever* seen a UPS truck legally parked or stopped? Have you ever seen one obey the speed limit in residential areas? That shit is the real danger, people let their feelings get the best of them when there isn't a single person to blame and sue when something goes wrong.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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