Recent Updates:

  • On Wednesday 9/1, PennDOT authorized Kiwibot to enter "Phase 2," which means the delivery robots can be operated remotely, without the requirement that a human supervisor be within 30 feet of the robot. You can read more about Phase 2 in PennDOT's PDD Operations Policy. There will still be one remote operator for each robot and a Kiwibot employee on the ground in Bloomfield during operations.
  • Kiwibot has published their US Privacy Policy. The policy can be found on Kiwibot's website and in the "Document Library" on this page.

  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is now offering free book deliveries using Kiwibots! To schedule a delivery of your free books, first confirm you live in the service area shown on the map below, then email programsandpartnerships@carnegielibrary.org or scan the QR code on the flyer below:


Purpose

This pilot is intended to provide city staff and residents experience with personal delivery devices (PDDs) in order to create informed local policies before the widespread deployment of PDDs.


What are PDDs?

Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs), also known as delivery robots, are ground delivery robots that are remotely operated, self-driving, or both. PDDs primarily operate in pedestrian areas, but at times operate on the street.

Under Pennsylvania law PDDs:

  • are defined as pedestrians,
  • can weigh up to 550 pounds empty, and
  • can operate at speeds up to 12 miles per hour on sidewalks.

Pennsylvania law also prohibits local authorities from regulating the operation of PDDs. This means PennDOT has the sole authority to authorize a company to operate PDDs and regulate the time, place, and manner in which the PDDs operate.


Learn more here: penndot.gov/pdd



Background

Of all the automated vehicle scenarios that Pittsburgh faces in the foreseeable future, the one that is likely to come soonest and to have the most unanticipated impacts is the introduction of small robotic vehicles on the sidewalk, known as “personal delivery devices” or “PDDs”. These robots may engage in package and food delivery, sweeping, snow removal, and potentially many other tasks.

Dozens of companies such as Amazon, FedEx, Kiwibot, Starship, and Uber are building and piloting small, electric sidewalk delivery robots with the goal of reducing the costs of delivering food and parcels over their last mile. Some of these companies are successfully lobbying for state laws that prohibit cities from regulating the operation of PDDs. Pennsylvania has enacted a law authorizing and regulating PDDs at the state level.

Pittsburgh has several concerns around the safety, accessibility, weight, speed, momentum, device identification, enforcement, monetization, and the definition of PDDs as pedestrians under this new state law. A city-led pilot, informed through community input, is the first step toward learning more about PDDs. The pilot will allow us to document our learnings, start to create informed local policies, and advise state regulators of necessary legislative and policy updates to ensure PDDs operate safely while maintaining accessibility in Pennsylvania.


Location

Bloomfield/Lawrenceville

Delivery service area:


Pilot Duration

6 months. (Anticipated July 2021 - January 2022)


Number of devices deployed

10 maximum


Operating Hours

Daylight and Dusk hours (will vary depending on time of year)


Steering Committee

A steering committee comprised of Bloomfield residents and stakeholders will convene regularly before, during, and for a set time after the pilot to evaluate the pilot and address any issues that may arise


Private Sector Partner

Because the City does not own any personal delivery devices, the City will be relying on a trusted private sector company to provide and operate the PDDs during the pilot period. After research and interviews with several private sector companies, the City is partnering with Kiwibot for this pilot project.

Kiwibots are small PDDs that operate at maximum speeds of 4mph. Kiwibots are remotely operated, meaning they are controlled and overseen by a human operator at all times.

Kiwibot was the most viable and attractive provider to partner with, specifically because of their willingness to have collaborative relationships with municipalities, as well as their business model, which is focused on achieving “public good” outcomes with pilot projects. Further, other vetted companies were excluded because of restrictions on where they would operate geographically; restrictions to certain types of use cases; and/or technical specifications that restricted where the robots could operate (e.g., PDDs that only operated on the street). Finally, Kiwibot had already deployed in San Jose, California (one of the four cities that is part of the Knight Autonomous Vehicle Initiative) and San Jose reported a good experience working with the company, both in developing a collaborative project that benefited community residents as well as offering the City relevant data to learn from the pilot project.


Funding

This pilot is fully funded through the Knight Foundation's Autonomous Vehicle Initiative. Click here to learn more about this grant.

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Erin Clark

Policy Analyst, DOMI

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