E-commerce is hugely popular, and the massive quantity of goods that are purchased online have to get delivered one way or another. Right now, deliveries typically take place by van, but this can cause problems such as increased traffic congestion. One alternative involves the use of delivery robots, but in some cases, the law severely limits the way in which these devices can be used. Virginia recently approved legislation that expands the range of delivery robots that are allowed to operate within its borders.
- The Virginia House of Delegates approved legislation that paves the way for heavier electric personal delivery vehicles to operate on that state’s roads and sidewalks.
- The new legislation changes the weight limit on electric personal delivery devices, raising it from 50 to 500 pounds.
- It requires each locality to allow these vehicles to operate on the shoulder of a roadway with a speed limit of 25 mph or less if a sidewalk isn’t available.
Virginia’s new legislation makes it possible for delivery robots such as Amazon Scout to be used on that state’s streets. (Video: YouTube/Amazon)
Here comes Amazon Scout
City and county governments are typically free to ban certain motorized vehicles from their streets. This list of vehicles usually includes e-scooters, e-bikes and delivery robots. Virginia’s new bill removes delivery robots from this list. That means cities in Virginia no longer have the ability to unilaterally prohibit the use of robots tasked with making e-commerce deliveries.
Amazon Scout is perhaps the most well-known delivery robot on the scene today. This autonomous device is about the size of a small cooler. It cruises down sidewalks, and its speed is similar to that of a walking pedestrian. While Amazon Scout has been employed in some parts of the country, it was too large to be approved for use under Virginia’s old laws. The new legislation makes it possible for Amazon’s delivery robots to roll down Virginia’s streets for the very first time.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Delivery robots seem like a logical next step in e-commerce’s evolution. Virginia’s new legislation makes sense, and it’s likely to inspire similar legislation changes in other parts of the country.