Personal delivery device

Arizona recently added to the panoply of transportation gadgets. (yet we still don’t regulate e-scooters; although the legislature did thankfully finally pass e-bike regs this session)
This reminded me of the pizza delivery robot in an episode of Black Mirror.

Roaming robots and dental therapists make it into law
Coming soon to a sidewalk near you: 200 pound autonomous delivery robots. …Without comment, Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Thursday authorizing these devices to use sidewalks. That in turn will pave the way for several companies to start rolling out the robots

A few points about the new law:

  • May, but are not required to be, autonomous
  • Sidewalks use is permitted, and is primary by definition.
  • Use in street permitted on 25mph posted roads.
  • When operating on a sidewalk / crosswalk the device “has all of the rights and duties” of a pedestrian
  • Speed is limited to 7mph (localities can allow higher but not lower limits)
  • Is excluded from the def’n of  vehicle and of motor vehicle.
  • The law automatically “sunsets” in Aug 2020, which seems like an oddly short amount of time given I don’t know if any of these devices actually exist yet.

Bike-law-watchers will recognize the language similarities to bicyclist regulation (“AFRAP”, “except by their nature”, etc), when riding on roads.

This is yet another vehicle that is “slow by nature” (along with bicycles, street sweeper, farm equipment, construction equipment, neighborhood elec vehicles, golf carts, busses, heavily loaded trucks, animal wagons, etc etc) that can and will impede other drivers/vehicles under normal conditions, and cannot be in violation.

I’ll put in one final plug; bike-law-watchers already know that state statute does not regulate sidewalk bicycling, leading to a tangled morass of local laws and Maxwell (an AZ State Supreme Court decision). I believe the most straightforward solution is to do the “all of the rights and duties” of peds when bicycling on the sidewalk/crosswalk — as was done with the pizza robot law.

HB2422 / 53rd, 2nd regular.  Here’s a direct link to the chaptered version, it’s very difficult to read; not sure why, probably because it went thru conf committee process(?). There was an Amazon lobbyist registered in favor.

49. "Personal delivery device" means an electronically powered device that:
(a) Is operated primarily on sidewalks and within crosswalks and that is designed to transport property.
(b) Weighs less than two hundred pounds, excluding cargo, unless otherwise authorized by a local authority pursuant to section 28-627.
(c) Operates at a maximum speed of seven miles per hour, unless otherwise authorized by a local authority pursuant to section 28-627.
(d) Is equipped with technology to allow for the operation of the device with or without the active control or monitoring of a natural person.
(e) Is equipped with a braking system that when active or engaged enables the personal delivery device to come to a controlled stop.

41. "Motor vehicle":
...(b) Does not include a personal delivery device, a motorized wheelchair, an electric personal assistive mobility device, an electric bicycle or a motorized skateboard. For the purposes of this subdivision...

71. "Vehicle":
(a) Means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway.
(b) Does not include:
(i) Electric bicycles and devices moved by human power.
(ii) Devices used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.
(iii) Personal delivery devices.

28-913. Personal delivery devices; operation; insurance
A. A personal delivery device may operate on a sidewalk, within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection and on roadways in this state with a posted speed limit of no greater than twenty-five miles per hour operated as far to the right as practicable. A personal delivery device has all of the rights and duties that are contained in this chapter and chapter 5 of this title and that are applicable to pedestrians except those provisions that by their nature can have no application.
B. A person who owns and operates a personal delivery device in this state must maintain an insurance policy that provides general liability coverage of at least one hundred thousand dollars for damages arising from the operations of the personal delivery device under the person's control unless otherwise authorized by a local authority pursuant to section 28-627.


Service Begins

According to this arstechnica article; actual deliveries in a full-blown personal delivery vehicle began in Dec 2018 at one Fry’s (Kroger) grocery in Scottsdale.





Legislation Updates 2020

Potential expansion of the law from 2018… SB1304 from 54R2 (spring 2020)

Expansion of autonomous delivery robots clears Senate

This law did pass, by the way; you can get all the docs at the link above. the meat of it is 28-1221 thru 1228. The operating max speeds seem to be updated, see 28-1225 “… speeds up to twelve miles per hour in a pedestrian area; At speeds up to twenty miles per hour on the side or shoulder…”. Local authorities can layer on more stringent limits, excepts the max operating speed cannot be below 7 mph.

There are also a variety of laws applying to the robot that are often, wrongly, thought to apply to bicyclists. I presume that’s because it’s okay to discriminate against a robot; whereas it’s not okay to discriminate against a person, say a bicyclist. The robots must “Yield to or not obstruct the right-of-way of all other traffic”, there is no such responsibility on bicyclists; for people using the road it’s all about safety, bicyclists sometimes, for example, be going slower than other traffic in a normal (normal is narrow) travel lane; yet the bicyclist has no duty to get out of the way (with a caveat for the 2 lane road / 5 or more impeding rule that applies to all road users). See here for Arizona’s frequently misconstrued Far To the Right law.

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