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11:51 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Delivery drones could be on their way to Arizona

David Catania, spokesman for Starship Technologies on right, explains how the diminutive autonomous robot could be used to deliver everything from groceries and prescriptions to mail – if Arizona lawmakers legalize the operation of the devices on sidewalks.

David Catania, spokesman for Starship Technologies on right, explains how the diminutive autonomous robot could be used to deliver everything from groceries and prescriptions to mail – if Arizona lawmakers legalize the operation of the devices on sidewalks.

KINGMAN – The Arizona House of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously recommended the passage of Bill HB2422 Wednesday, the first step in paving the way for personal delivery drones in Arizona.

Vendors in Arizona could begin utilizing personal delivery drones if the matter makes its way through the Arizona Legislature. Liberty PR and Marketing is an agency employed by Starship Technologies, a world-leader in autonomous delivery devices. In a press release, Liberty said incorporating delivery drones means people will spend less time running errands, and more time on everyday activities that they enjoy. David Catania, U.S. head of public affairs for Starship Technologies, represented the London-based company and presented in favor of the bill.

“We are trying to make delivery more efficient and cost effective for businesses and consumers by using self-driving delivery robots,” Catania said in an email. “E-commerce is growing at over 10 percent per year, and that means more delivery vans and cars out on the roads, which is becoming an increasing problem in regards to congestion and pollution. Our delivery robots operate on the sidewalk, and at times that are convenient to the end consumer.”

Starship Technologies’ drones are capable of delivering packages of up to 20 pounds to homes within a two-mile radius. Catania said that Starship is aiming to provide that on-demand service in 15 to 30 minutes.

“This means less time waiting around for deliveries, so ultimately, we want to give customers a gift - the gift of time,” he said.

Customers would download a designated Starship application on their cell phones, from which the delivery process would be facilitated.

“This will include having oversight of nearby robots, what’s inside of each and looking after payment and unlocking and locking of the robot,” Catania said.

Language within the bill notes numerous specifications regarding what constitutes a “personal delivery device,” as well as regulations that coincide with their operation. According to the bill, the devices are defined as “Electronically powered devices,” that are operated by a personal delivery device operator. An operator, as defined by the bill, is an “eligible entity or an eligible entity’s agent that exercises direct physical control over or monitoring of the navigation and operation of a personal delivery device.”

“Our robots are 100 percent electric and run on battery power, unlike the gas guzzling delivery vans,” Catania said. “The robots are inherently safe, with sophisticated obstacle detection and travel only at pedestrian speeds. We're aiming to get the cost of delivery down to $1 in the future, which will create a wealth of new business models and opportunities once we achieve that, along with creating many jobs in the process.”

According to the bill, these drones, which are designed to carry personal property, can use sidewalks and crosswalks and would be afforded the same “rights and duties” as pedestrians, though it would be required that pedestrians are given the right-of-way in circumstances that apply.

They would also be required to obey traffic and crosswalk signals and would have brakes allowing them to come to a “controlled stop.” Drones would not be permitted on highways, as the bill classifies them as devices which have speeds not in excess of 10 mph.

If the bill continues to make leeway in the Arizona Legislature, Arizona could join Washington D.C., Silicon Valley, Walnut Creek, CA, and multiple cities throughout Europe in utilizing Starship’s robots. The legislation will now go before the Arizona House of Representatives and then the Senate for final action.