TechCrunch is reporting that New York City has made it abundantly clear autonomous delivery robots are not welcome.
FedEx, like Amazon and Postmates, has been experimenting with autonomous delivery robots, some of which were in NYC over the weekend to be previewed at the company’s Small Business Saturday event. After some of the bots—called Roxo—were spotted, Mayor Bill de Blasio and transportation officials wasted no time making their position known—again, despite the fact the bots were only there for a presentation and not actually delivering anything.
According to TechCrunch, “the mayor tweeted that FedEx didn’t receive permission to deploy the robots; he also criticized the company for using a bot to perform a task that a New Yorker could do. The New York Department of Transportation has sent FedEx a cease-and-desist order to stop operations the bots, which TechCrunch has viewed.
“The letter informs FedEx that its bots violate several vehicle and traffic laws, including that motor vehicles are prohibited on sidewalks. Vehicles that receive approval to operate on sidewalks must receive a special exemption and be registered.”
The bots use machine learning, in combination with an array of sensing technology and cameras to plot a safe route, while at the same time avoiding obstacles and obeying traffic or sidewalk rules.
While FedEx has been testing “the bots in Memphis, Tennessee as well as Plano and Frisco, Texas and Manchester, New Hampshire,” it’s a safe bet NYC won’t be seeing them anytime soon.