Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
    New City Moratorium on Food Delivery Robots Aims to Address Safety and Operational Concerns

    The City of Knoxville is taking proactive measures to regulate the use of Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) in order to ensure public safety and address operational questions. While PDDs have been successfully deployed on the University of Tennessee campus, city officials want to establish proper guidelines before allowing them in other areas.

    PDDs are autonomous robots that deliver packages, food, or other items to individuals. These electric robots operate on public sidewalks, navigating between businesses and customers to provide a convenient delivery service. However, their presence on public rights-of-way raises concerns about safety and potential disruptions to pedestrian flow and road traffic.

    To address these issues, the City Council has approved a six-month moratorium on PDD operations until a comprehensive City PDD policy is developed and adopted. This moratorium will not affect the operations of PDDs on the UT campus. By implementing the moratorium, the city aims to gather data and undertake a thorough study in collaboration with businesses and stakeholders to assess the value and suitability of PDDs in wider areas.

    City officials emphasize the importance of safety as a top priority. They want to ensure that PDDs do not impede pedestrians or compromise road safety when crossing intersections. The City’s Strategic Policy & Programs Director, Carter Hall, expressed the need for proactive regulation to avoid potential problems that may arise if PDDs are allowed to operate without guidelines.

    This initiative follows a similar approach taken by the city when dealing with the introduction of electric scooters in 2019. By examining the lessons learned from that experience, Knoxville aims to develop a well-thought-out policy that addresses the unique challenges and benefits presented by PDDs.

    During the six-month period, the city will evaluate existing data and engage in a comprehensive study to inform the development of the City PDD policy. The moratorium can be extended if necessary, ensuring that careful considerations and consultations take place before wide-scale implementation of food delivery robots in Knoxville.


    What are Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs)?

    Personal Delivery Devices (PDDs) are autonomous robots designed to transport packages, food, or other items to individuals. They operate on public sidewalks and utilize electric power for autonomous navigation.

    Why is the City of Knoxville implementing a moratorium on PDD operations?

    The City of Knoxville wants to establish proper guidelines to address safety and operational concerns associated with the use of PDDs on public rights-of-way. The moratorium allows time for data collection, stakeholder consultation, and the development of a comprehensive City PDD policy.

    How long will the moratorium last?

    The initial moratorium period is six months. However, it can be extended if necessary to ensure that a well-thought-out policy is developed based on thorough research and consultation.

    Will the moratorium affect PDD operations on the University of Tennessee campus?

    No, the moratorium specifically applies to areas outside of the University of Tennessee campus. PDD operations on the campus will continue without interruption.

    What lessons from the introduction of electric scooters is Knoxville using to inform the PDD policy?

    Knoxville recognizes the importance of proactive regulation based on past experiences with the introduction of electric scooters. Lessons learned from that process will inform the development of a well-considered policy for PDDs, ensuring the safety of pedestrians and maintaining efficient traffic flow.