The Pink Dot grocery store at Sunset Boulevard and La Cienega in Hollywood rolled out three delivery robots in December 2020, and they’re a source of curiosity and amusement to human pedestrians. People photograph the machines, intentionally block their paths and even try to unlock them to see what might be inside. It’s just a matter of time though that somebody who is unaware of the fact that one of these delivery robots is near them falls over one or rides a bicycle or scooter into one and gets injured. Then, who can be held liable?
New Laws Regarding Robots in Public Will be Coming:
The State of California and its municipalities have yet to enact statutes or ordinances regarding robots on public ways. If the Pink Dot project idea expands into other delivery services, delivery robots will be a hot topic for legislators, county commissioners and local city council members. The laws of negligence and product liability are well-established and likely to control though. They might only be expanded a bit by new legislation.
Human Protection from Robots
Any robot legislation has to be guided by the fundamental principle that humans must be protected from injury by robots, the same as humans must be protected from injury by the intentional or negligent acts of other humans. What comes to issue is the unpredictability of humans when they’re knowingly or unknowingly around robots. Is a robot on a sidewalk likely to respond to a voice command from somebody who it doesn’t “know?” How is it to react to a person’s movements, body language or gestures in that scenario? What about when that robot has to cross a street or does what it’s supposed to do and still ends up causing an accident and injuring somebody?
Many robots have the ability to adapt to new surroundings, and they’re able to evaluate or assess an environment. On sometimes crowded and unpleasant sidewalks and street crossings that have a multitude of sounds echoing from them, much remains to be learned about how safe delivery robots might be. What’s learned might then be used on developing safer robots in the future. The laws of negligence and product liability will see to that. Robots might be changing deliveries in the next few years, but they won’t be changing the fundamentals of personal injury law. If anything, they’ll expand them.
Injured by a robot?
While many robots will make our lives easier and operated by cool companies, eventually someone is going to get injured by one of them.
If you live in California and you’re injured by any type of robot, contact us for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.