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Florida is now the fourth state to permit delivery robots on sidewalks

The robot delivery company Starship Technologies is helping to pass state laws across the country.

This image shows an autonomous delivery robot delivering something. Screengrab from Starship Technologies YouTube video

Today, Florida became the fourth state in the country to pass a statewide law permitting the use of unmanned delivery robots on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

Having a robot drive down a sidewalk without a human handler isn’t necessarily legal in most places. But the new Florida law, which was signed by Governor Rick Scott today, allows for unmanned robots as long as a human can take over operation remotely in case something goes wrong.

The Florida law is similar to legislation finalized in Virginia, Idaho and Wisconsin earlier this year. All of these state laws were passed with the support of Starship Technologies, a company that makes a rover designed to deliver packages, like food and retail items ordered online, directly to people’s doorsteps.

Starship has lobbyists who worked on all of the state proposals.

Robots operating on sidewalks and crosswalks in Florida will not be allowed to weigh over 80 pounds or travel faster than 10 miles per hour.

That weight limit is important to note as it could lock out other ground robot companies from operating in the state, as Recode first reported in April. That’s because some of Starship’s competitors, including the robot delivery startup Marble, which started a trial in San Francisco earlier this year, make robots that weigh more than 80 pounds. The three other state laws similarly have potentially prohibitive weight limits.

Starship’s robots weigh 45 pounds when empty.

The new Florida law comes at a time when Starship isn’t currently operating in the state, but a representative from the company told Recode that it plans to launch a pilot program in Florida sometime this year.

Starship began running tests with its robots in Redwood City, California with the delivery service DoorDash, and in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Postmates in January of this year.

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