Amazon’s Delivery Robots Arrive in Irvine, California

Transport and delivery robots convey items of all kinds, like parcels and purchases from one party (often the provider or broker) to another (often the customer) or they accompany and relieve pedestrians and cyclists of their burden. From 2016 to 2018, Swiss Post tested small transport robots by Starship Technologies in Berne. Amazon began testing autonomous robots in a suburb of Seattle at the beginning of the year. According to USA TODAY, they will deliver packages to customers in Irvine, California. Irvine is a university town with about 250,000 inhabitants. It was planned and built in the 1960s by the Irvine Company. “Amazon said the robots, which are light blue and have the Amazon smile logo stamped on its sides, are able to avoid crashing into trash cans or pedestrians. Still, a worker will accompany the robots at first.” (USA TODAY, 6 August 2019) This is, of course, an effort that cannot be operated indefinitely. Once the escort is removed, accidents are inevitable. Transport robots of this type are dangerous trip hazards. They also create enormous complexity in urban traffic. These problems were addressed in Oliver Bendel’s article “Service Robots in Public Spaces” in June 2017 which can be downloaded here.

The Struggle of the German Bundestag with Explaining the Robotical Facts of Life

In July 2018, the German party FDP posed several questions to the German Bundestag to get more insight about the political strategy in the field of AI and robotics and its progress (see Drucksache 19/3714). One of those was about the handling of sexbots. The reply left the question more open than answered. This does not only show the still missing awareness of the urgency to be concerned with AI and robotics. It also shows the political ignorance towards this topic. Considering the number of commercial brothels already using love dolls, this is even more bothering. In Germany, at least one such establishment exists, in other countries like Switzerland or South Korea even more. In general, you have to define, whether sexual services provided by such dolls can be seen as prostitution and if so, how to extend the concerning laws (in case, they exists). In South Korea, for example, prostitution is illegal, what makes the police facing exactly this definition problem. For a country like Germany, where one of the most detailed and latest published laws about prostitution exists, you may think, the legislatory would react. Not to mention the arising ethical questions.