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Wisconsin is now the third state to allow delivery robots

Similar laws were passed in Virginia and Idaho earlier this year.

Starship Technologies

Today the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, signed a new law permitting the use of delivery robots on crosswalks and sidewalks across the state.

In most places in the U.S., it’s not necessarily legal for a robot to roll around on a sidewalk. But now three states — Wisconsin, Idaho and Virginia — have passed statewide laws permitting the use of robots to deliver items to people’s doorsteps.

In March, Virginia was the first state in the country to pass a law broadly allowing delivery robots. Then Idaho passed a similar law later that same month.

All three states’ robot delivery proposals were introduced with the help of Starship Technologies, a robot company that makes a rover designed to deliver packages, like food and items ordered online, direct to your door. Starship has lobbyists who worked on the proposals.

The Wisconsin law places an 80-pound weight limit on the robots and doesn’t permit the machines to travel faster than 10 miles per hour. The robots are also required to have a person in the loop to take over control in case something goes awry.

The 80-pound limit, however, might mean that some of Starship’s competitors can’t operate in the state, as Recode first reported.

Another ground robot delivery company, Marble, has a robot that it’s testing in San Francisco, but that robot weighs more than 80 pounds. So if Marble wanted to operate in Wisconsin — or Virginia or Idaho, which also have weight limits baked into their laws — the company would have to get special permission. Starship’s robots weigh about 40 pounds.

As of April, Starship was not operating in any of the states where it has worked to pass the robot laws. Recode reached out to Starship to ask if the company is or has plans to start making deliveries in any of the states where it has helped to champion the robot-friendly laws, but did not immediately hear back.

Similar legislation has also been proposed in Florida.

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