INDIANAPOLIS – A new Indiana law going into effect July 1 could bring more delivery robots to Hoosiers’ doorsteps.
The law, House Bill 1072, creates state regulations for these devices, which are already delivering food on Purdue University’s campus.
“We’ve had over 65,000 deliveries since 2019,” said Rob Wynkoop, associate vice president for administrative services. “The robots have traveled well over 100,000 miles just on our campus alone.”
Now state lawmakers are trying to make it easier for companies to roll out their robots.
Only a small handful of states have passed similar legislation, according to State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), a co-author of the law.
“Just to create a level playing field so that you don’t have different municipalities requiring different things,” Pressel said.
Only a small handful of states have enacted similar legislation, Pressel said.
The law sets a 10 M.P.H. speed limit for the robots on sidewalks and creates several other regulations, he added.
“There’s a $100,000 liability limit that they have to have on these devices,” Pressel said. “They cannot operate in the state highway system.”
Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president for business development for Starship Technologies, which operates the delivery robot fleet at Purdue, said the legislation allows its deliveries to expand into more West Lafayette neighborhoods.
“The municipality can say, ‘Here’s a framework that we can work with, we can do nothing to it,'” Tuohy said. “We can slightly modify it, but it’s a much easier lift for them.”
Business leaders say these devices create jobs, not eliminate them.
“At the end of the day what it comes down to is workforce,” said Adam Berry, vice president of economic development and technology for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which advocated for the legislation.
Berry said he believes the devices will be heavily used in the future.
“Indiana needs to sort of do everything it can to shine a beacon out to forward thinking, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs who want to work in the space,” he said.
The devices would mostly be used in densely populated areas where they can make multiple deliveries in a short amount of time, Pressel said.