There is no doubt that delivery robots are nearly upon us. It’s no longer a matter of if, but rather a matter of when and by what method. To answer both, the State of Virginia has finally passed legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks. This means that, out of all the states throughout the U.S., Virginia is the first to officially legalize robot-enabled delivery services.
Before the state’s governor signed the ruling, Estonian robotics company Starship Technologies helped advise in its written framework. In the ruling, it is stated that the delivery robots are not allowed to travel faster than 10mph, or weigh over 50 lbs. To ensure nothing goes wrong, each delivery robot must maintain constant remote monitoring by the company while it’s operating on the streets of Virginia.
The bill was sponsored by lawmakers Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph. It was signed into law last Friday and is to go into effect on July 1.
What this entails for the rest of the country is uncertain, but as it would appear, both Idaho and Florida are now moving forward to pass similar legislation as well. In doing so, the U.S. is fast approaching the future of delivery robots. In five years time, this form of delivery will become common practice throughout the country. From both drones in the sky to wheeled robots on the ground, human delivery workers better kiss their job goodbye, because they won’t have a job here soon.
And this should worry legislators and politicians. Not to force them into not allowing robots from taking over delivery services in the workforce; rather to pressure them into making the necessary accommodations for a future of technological unemployment. As robots continue taking over jobs which originally required human labor, these same legislators should also be making strides towards ruling in favor a Universal Basic Income Guarantee.
“We believe our robots will revolutionise local delivery. We see a world where you can send and receive anything you want, anytime and anywhere. Our engineering expertise, combined with our experience of co-founding Skype, is enabling us to turn this into reality.”
– Starship Technologies
Thirty to fifty years from now, robots will become much more than mere delivery laborers for us humans. Sure, they’ll also likely help in delivery transportation, from food to medicine, but then robots will also become much more intellectual than their predecessors. We’re talking about a new robotics class that is far more intelligent than the average human – the emergence of artificial superintelligence (ASI).
With the birth of an ASI, humans will have already made the decision on whether they wish to merge with their fellow robot citizenry or to remain human (and likely go extinct as a result). Keeping pace will be crucial to accommodate the rise of an ASI. If we choose to merge, we will become robots, just as robots become human. We will be one in the same thing, moving forward at an exponential pace, transforming everything we touch, including ourselves.
Photo Credit: Starship Technologies