RICHMOND, Va. — Robots about the size of a beer cooler could soon be rolling down Virginia sidewalks to deliver sandwiches, groceries or packages.
Supporters say proposed legislation to allow the robots would make the state the first in the nation to regulate such devices.
State lawmakers partnered with European company Starship Technologies on bills allowing Virginia cities to join two others in the U.S. and many across Europe where the company is testing its largely autonomous earthbound robots. Much like other tech companies’ attempts at airborne drone deliveries, Starship aims to revolutionize the way people get their parcels.
Representatives from the company visited Richmond on Wednesday for a demonstration. With six wheels, a top that swings open and a flag for visibility, Starship’s compact “personal delivery devices” are designed to carry goods within a 2- to 3-mile radius. They can hold up to 22 pounds, or about three shopping bags’ worth of goods. Recipients can unlock them with a smartphone app.