Update (10:29 am): City Council passed the resolution unanimously.

Today, Austin City Council will debate a resolution to create a pilot project for delivery bots. Aimed at taking cars off of the road, especially in the dense city center, the effort is sponsored by Council Members Kathie Tovo, Jimmy Flannigan, Ora Houston, and Mayor Steve Adler.

Lilly Rockwell with the Austin American-Statesman has a good overview of the company making the push for the pilot project, Starship Technologies. As the resolution states:

  • Starship’s robots use sidewalks to deliver packages of up to 20 pounds from different businesses;
  • The robots are 99 percent autonomous and recognize obstructions during delivery including adults, children, pets, poles, traffic signals, and other items commonly found on sidewalks; and
  • The robots are electrically powered and emit zero carbon dioxide.

Contact your City Council Member to voice your support for this innovative means of solving last mile challenges in a sustainable, forward-thinking way.

Here’s the meat of the resolution:

The City Manager is directed to explore the robotic delivery model offered by Starship or similar companies, to analyze what city code amendments or other actions might be required to test such a pilot program in the City, and to make a recommendation to Council by June 30, 2017.

In other words, is a change in city law required for a robot delivery pilot program to operate in Austin?

The resolution directs staff to have an answer to Council by the end of June, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out this video of what a robot delivery service looks like: