OLYMPIA – On Tuesday, April 30, Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation to allow autonomous delivery robots to begin operating in Washington state. House Bill 1325, sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, authorizes and regulates the use of personal delivery devices (PDDs), defined as autonomous electric low-speed, low mass devices for the delivery of property from local businesses to consumers via sidewalks and crosswalks.
“This bill can play a small part in relieving traffic congestion in Washington, while giving another convenient option for people to get the items they need delivered to their homes and businesses. I cannot wait to see the positive impact this makes for our communities,” said Kloba.
PDDs make deliveries within approximately one mile of their business of origin. By using sidewalks, they can prevent the unnecessary use of full sized vehicles on the road – lowering air pollution and reducing traffic congestion on city streets.
House Bill 1325 lays out basic rules for the operation of PDDs, including that they must obey the rules that all pedestrians follow while using sidewalks, including waiting at crosswalks and yielding to vehicular traffic. PDDs must also yield the right of way to foot traffic in front of them.
Additional regulations include equipment requirements that enhance public safety, such as having a unique ID number, a braking system, visible lights, and other features to enhance the visibility and awareness of the PDDs. Finally, businesses operating PDDs must employ a remote monitor who can control the device if necessary, have liability insurance, and are restricted from transporting hazardous materials or alcohol.
“This new law balances the needs of our communities to have safe, usable sidewalks, while allowing companies to embrace innovative and creative new technologies,” said Kloba after the bill signing.