The city of San Francisco is seen as the tech heaven of the world. After all, pretty much all tech companies are based there. As a result, the city has become a perfect place to test new tech products and to deploy them on a mass scale. San Francisco has seen its fair share of futuristic technology. From self-driving cars to advanced AI, the city has seen it all.
But there’s one thing that despite their good intentions and tech innovation, San Francisco is simply saying “no” to. In 2016, companies like Starship and Marble started to test self-driving food-delivery robots in the city. The robots are designed to transport groceries and other foods right to your doorstep. However, the move didn’t seem to work well with the city and its officials. Tighter regulations that will limit road test for food-delivery robots were passed by the local officials. The regulations are some of the strictest in the US, and inventors of these robots are not happy.
Starship is one of the companies that have been testing the robots. The company was founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis who have both helped launch Skype so they are indeed quite seasoned in the local tech space. The co-founders announced that they will be moving their technology to a city that actually “wants it” soon after the new strict regulations were passed. Heinla said in an interview that there’s only one San Francisco but there are so many other cities out there that would gladly welcome robot food deliveries with open arms.
According to critics, the city of San Francisco has become some sort of a testing site for tech innovation. Ride-hailing services and self-driving cars have all started their tests in this city. Local officials think that these tests have often been conducted without considering other road users. The electric scooters have often been given as a perfect example of how dangerous this trend is. Companies like Bird and LimeBike have created apps that allow people to reserve a scooter using their phone. They can ride for a small fee and leave the scooter wherever they want for the next rider to claim it. There are no specific spaces where the scooters can be placed. Just leave them anywhere you want and be on your way.
The scooter menace is about to become ever more problematic. Three new startups have entered the field and are planning to roll out hundreds of new scooters in downtown San Francisco. This is the kind of mess that city officials want to avoid by introducing tougher rules on food-delivery robots. Under the new rules, only a maximum of nine food-delivery robots can operate in the city at one given time. In addition to this, the robots will only operate in industrial areas where traffic tends to be lighter. Local officials have also not granted any new permits for food-delivery robots since March.