Louisiana Creates Rules for Self-Driving Delivery Devices

They must yield to pedestrians, can't obstruct traffic and can't transport hazardous materials.

A food delivery robot on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, March 26, 2019.
A food delivery robot on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, March 26, 2019.
Ben Shanahan/Arizona Daily Sun via AP

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has created a framework for self-driving delivery robots to drop off packages on the state's streets, under a bill backed by lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The new personal delivery device law sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Ward of Port Allen took effect immediately after the Democratic governor signed the legislation. Edwards' office announced the bill signing Wednesday.

Grocery stores, pizza delivery restaurants and Amazon have started working on delivering items with self-driving robots. Ward told his colleagues he envisioned pharmacies, restaurants or other stores near local neighborhoods possibly using the devices to make short-distance deliveries.

“Your constituents would be able to place an order for any number of things, and that personal delivery device would be able to pick that up from a store location and go throughout the neighborhood and deliver it along the way,” Ward told the House transportation committee when it debated and approved the measure.

Several other states have passed similar laws. Louisiana's House voted 101-0 for the bill, while senators supported it in a 34-1 vote in the legislative session that ended last week.

Under Louisiana's new law, self-driving delivery robots must run at low speeds — up to 12 miles per hour (19.31 kilometres per hour) in pedestrian areas and up to 20 miles per hour (32.19 kilometres per hour) in other areas.

They must yield to pedestrians, can't obstruct traffic and can't transport hazardous materials. Companies using the robot delivery vehicles must have lights on the front and rear of each device and maintain at least $100,000 of insurance on the device.

The new law allows local governing officials and airport authorities to establish municipal ordinances or rules banning the robot delivery devices, if they decide that's in the best interest of safety.

More