San Francisco supervisor moves to ban robots from city sidewalks

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban Segways from city sidewalks years ago, now robots could be next.

San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee has sponsored legislation to prohibit the bots, and advocacy groups representing pedestrians, seniors, and the disabled are on board.

Walk SF has started a petition drive, called Save Our Sidewalks. The outreach director says pedestrians already have to dodge cars when crossing the street and that robots are "an obstruction in the pathway" of people walking.

An international company, Starship Technologies has tested the autonomous delivery vehicles in San Francisco and currently operates them in Redwood City as well as in 5 states and several countries.

David Catania of Starship says the device has situational awareness that allows it to spot people and avoid them.

He says the Starship robots have had more than 10 million human interactions without incident. The company has not applied for a permit to operate in San Francisco and would like to talk with the city and community groups before an outright ban.

A hearing on Supervisor Yee's legislation is next month.
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