Regulating sidewalk delivery robots as a disruptive new urban technology

Mateja Kovacic, Simon Marvin*, Aidan While

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Sidewalk delivery robots are increasingly being deployed in diverse urban contexts, raising issues about the most appropriate form of regulation to maintain pedestrian flows and protect the public. This paper examines the evolution of sidewalk robot governance in a “hot spot” of urban robotic application in the State of California (USA), where different municipal authorities have experimented with prohibitive, permissive and collaborative forms of sidewalk re-regulation in response to the various potential disruptions and risks associated with the new technology. Combining detailed policy analysis and interviews, the paper takes forward literature on the regulatory challenges and opportunities in making space for urban robotics as a disruptive technology.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Geography
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • California
  • Delivery
  • governance
  • robot
  • sidewalk
  • urban


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