Automated delivery drones could be coming to Florida's sidewalks

Posted at 4:32 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 18:55:59-05

Florida could become the second state to legalize drones to deliver goods right to your front door.  These aren’t the flying ones you probably have seen but robots that ride on the sidewalk.

“I think it would be really awesome to have drones.  It would be much easier than to send a driver,” says Atlantis Pizzeria delivery driver Clayton Buckner.

They’re round, stout and perhaps the future of delivery as we know it.

“Being a part of history is incredibly exciting,” says Starship Technologies head of marketing Henry Harris-Burland. “We’re looking to reduce congestion, reduce pollution.”

Delivery drones could be legal in Florida as soon as July. State Sen. Jeff Brandes recently proposed the bill to allow it.

“We think that it would allow consumers choice and provide some really interesting delivery options,” Brandes says.

The electric engine tops out at 4 mph, and rides exclusively on sidewalks and crosswalks.  It would specialize in urban areas.

“It’s like a pedestrian robot, think where pedestrians go, the robot can go,” says Harris-Burland.

It captures audio and video to avoid obstacles, and record anyone who tries to mess with it.  It can carry up to 20 pounds of whatever can fit inside, secured by a unique code that only the recipient has to unlock the hatch.  It’s 99 percent automated, but could have a human take control if need be.

“Delivery is seen as an inconvenience to us as the customer.  We see it as a pain, but we want to make delivery seamless.  We want to not even have to think about it,” Harris-Burland says.

“It’s pretty crazy that robots can replace humans but it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s better for the environment,” says Buckner.

The argument over these robots over the flying drones is there is a lot less regulation when there’s no flying involved.  Even if this passes, it would still need to be addressed by the local municipalities.