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Tuesday, November 12, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Bill allowing robots to travel on Idaho sidewalks wins House committee approval

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 28, 2017

With just one “no” vote, the House Transportation Committee has approved a bill to allow “personal delivery robots” to travel on Idaho sidewalks like motorized wheelchairs and Segways. Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, who cast the only “no” vote, said, “I think I’m the only conservative left in the Legislature on this issue.”

But she also added, looking at the small robot that was being demonstrated in the committee room, “I’d love to put my cat in there.”

The company behind the effort is Starship Technologies Inc., a European tech company based in London and Estonia. It was launched by two co-founders of Skype, Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla, who is Starship’s CEO. According to the company’s website, the robot can carry two bags of groceries and is 22 inches tall.

Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, asked representatives of Starship Technologies Inc., “How has this played out in Redwood City? If we come back next year, are we going to have hundreds of these little guys running around Boise?”

The answer was no; the rollout will be much more modest than that. Plus, if there were too many of the robots, a city could put limits on them, ban them or restrict hours or areas where they can operate.

The legislation moves to the full House for a vote; it needs approval both there and in the Senate and the governor’s signature to become law.

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