Robot regulations nearly ready to roll

San Francisco’s delivery robot regulations are set to take effect after the Board of Supervisors approved fees for the program Tuesday.

Supervisor Norman Yee first proposed the regulations about a year ago after robots began showing up on city sidewalks delivering sandwiches.

Yee said the devices pose a safety risk and he was supported by pedestrian safety advocates like the group Walk SF.

Yee had initially proposed an outright ban of robot deliveries and threatened to go the ballot, but later negotiated with companies like Potrero Hill-based Marble to allow limited use for testing in a small section of the city zoned as production, distribution and repair or PDR.

Robot delivery companies must apply with Public Works to obtain a permit on a first-come, first-service basis. They will have to spend $860 to apply for a permit to test one device, $1,540 to test two devices and $1,995 to test the maximum allowed three devices.

The $860 fee includes a $450 street inspector fee for four hours, a $250 notification fee and a $180 application filing fee.

Permits are good for 180 days and two 90-day extensions are permitted upon approval. Permits are good for 180 days and two 90-day extensions are permitted upon approval. Only nine robots could be permitted for use at any one time.

Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said the department plans to post the rules and regulations on its site next week. Applications for the permits would begin the moment the law takes effect.

The board needs to take a second vote on the proposal next week and the mayor has 10 days to sign it, after which it would take effect 30 days later.

Joshua Sabatini
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Joshua Sabatini

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