Georgia lawmakers set rules of the road for delivery robots

The Georgia General Assembly has approved legislation to establish some basic rules of the road for delivery robots. (Amazon/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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The Georgia General Assembly has approved legislation to establish some basic rules of the road for delivery robots. (Amazon/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Delivery robots may be coming to your neighborhood as e-commerce expands, and state lawmakers are trying to prepare the way.

Companies such as Amazon and Federal Express already are testing robots that deliver packages to your home. The Georgia House of Representatives on Monday gave final approval to a bill that would establish some basic rules for “personal delivery devices.”

House Bill 1009 defines such devices as automated cargo transport systems weighing up to 500 pounds unloaded and 600 pounds loaded. It would ban the devices from limited-access highways with speed limits over 45 mph, but it would allow them on bike and pedestrian paths.

The bill also would set speed limits (20 mph on roads, bike lanes and shoulders and 4 mph on sidewalks or paths), establish safety standards (they must have brakes and lights) and require them to be monitored by someone who is capable controlling them at any time. It specifies that the owner of the device would be responsible for any violations, and it would require them to have $250,000 in liability insurance.

Georgia would become the 21st state to authorize personal delivery devices. At a recent hearing, Rep. Todd Jones, R-Cumming, the bill’s sponsor, said he believes delivery robots will evolve rapidly in coming years.

“It’s not every day where we, as the General Assembly, have an opportunity to look into the future like this,” Jones said.

ExploreTrack major Georgia bills

Not everyone is a fan of the legislation. HB 1009 would allow local governments to ban delivery robots on sidewalks, bike lanes and paths — but only at night. Bicycle and trail advocates say local governments should be able to ban the devices in certain places during daylight hours.

“Local citizens and their governments built those sidewalks, bike lanes and multiuse paths,” said Duane Ford, chair of Newton Trails Inc. “They should get to determine what sort of users can be on the trail and when.”

The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp.