A mock delivery bot model is shown during a meeting at San Francisco City Hall discussing delivery robots Tuesday, October 3, 2017. A pedestrian safety committee opted not to endorse a proposed ban on delivery robots during the meeting. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF street safety committee declines to endorse delivery robot ban

Opposition to a proposed ban on autonomous delivery services in San Francisco seems to be growing after a pedestrian safety committee did not endorse the ban after a vote Tuesday morning.

The Vision Zero Committee of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority opted to send the vote to its full board for subsequent consideration without recommendation.

Supervisor Norman Yee proposed the ban on autonomous delivery vehicles at the Board of Supervisors citing safety for pedestrians, and especially seniors and people with disabilities.

SEE RELATED: Yee continues to push for robot delivery ban despite opposition from business leaders

Also a member of the transportation authority, Yee sought endorsement to bolster his ban. The Vision Zero Committee represents The City’s mandate to reduce traffic deaths to zero, and studies street safety initiatives as a body of the transportation authority.

“I’m not supportive of the resolution,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who is one of three supervisors sitting on the committee as a transportation authority commissioner, citing a need to protect labor interests and innovation.

Opposition to the robot ban was varied — tech industry professionals, business leaders and representatives from labor voiced opposition to the ban.

“We’re not asking for no regulation, all we’re asking for is smart regulation,” Vikrum Aiyer, a spokesperson with delivery service Postmates told the committee:.

Doug Bloch, of the Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents thousands of Teamsters statewide, said an outright ban rather than tight regulations would surrender San Francisco’s ability to influence national regulation of delivery robots.

One of the only public speakers in favor of the ban was Danny Thomas Vang, a senior at San Francisco State University. He is blind, and led himself by cane to the podium to speak.

“I want you to think on whether safety and convenience should be a right or a privilege,” he said.
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