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SF Supervisor Initiates Sequence to Ban Food Delivery Robots

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Citing sidewalk safety and job loss

via the Yelp blog

A member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors really doesn’t want his food delivered by robots and is proposing legislation to ban the nascent drone food delivery industry from using city pavement.

“Our streets and our sidewalks are made for people, not robots,” District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee said in an interview with Recode. “This is consistent with how we operate in the city, where we don’t allow bikes or skateboards on sidewalks.”

Starting in April, customers of Yelp Eat24 in Potrero Hill could receive deliveries via roving robots in a partnership with local startup Marble. In a statement Marble emphasized that safety was its priority. “We look forward to working with the supervisors, neighborhood groups and others to craft smart regulation,” the company wrote. Meanwhile, A major player in the industry is Starship Technologies, an Estonian company that has been working to pass preemptive legislation in the US to permit their product — and not their competitors — to make deliveries according to Recode.

Yee also alluded to the potential for job loss involved in robot delivery. “I am proud that San Francisco is a hub of innovation, but it cannot be at the expense of safety, quality of life, substantial job loss and our privacy,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing the legislative proposal. At the same time, Yee’s fellow Supervisor Jane Kim is exploring the possibility of taxing companies that use robots, an effort to address jobs lost to automation.