SAN FRANCISCO—Postmates will become the first company to receive a permit for San Francisco’s new robot delivery pilot program. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors originally approved the use of robot deliveries in the city in December 2017, but this is the first time a company is expected to test the new system. 

The San Francisco Department of Public Works website stated the following restrictions for the permits: 

  • Permits are valid for no longer than 180 days. The Public Works Director may grant up to two 90-day extensions.
  • Permits authorize the testing of up to three autonomous delivery devices per permittee.
  • No more than a total of nine autonomous delivery devices may be permitted at any time. 
  • No permittee may hold more than one permit at any time; provided that a permittee may apply for a second permit, if after six months have elapsed from the effective date of this ordinance, no more than two prospective permittees have applied for an Autonomous Delivery Device Testing permit. If a permittee has received a second permit under this provision, that second permit shall not be eligible for a 90-day extension.
  • Testing shall be within zoning district designated as Production, Design and Repair (“PDR”).
  • Testing shall not take place within a Vision Zero San Francisco high-injury corridor.
  • A human operator shall remain within 30 feet of the Autonomous Delivery Device for the entire duration of testing.

Postmates is expected to receive the permit on Monday, August 12. Serve, the name of their delivery robots, can carry up to 50 pounds for 25 miles. According to the company, the robots will be monitored by humans in case there are any issues that customers need to discuss.