Today the University of Toronto Robotics Institute and the AGE-WELL NCE submitted a joint letter to Mayor Tory and Members of Toronto City Council regarding the motion to amend city by-laws and implement an outright ban of so-called Micro-Utility Devices (MUDs), or service robots, from operating or stopping on all sidewalks and bike paths.
The councillors cite the responsibility of municipalities to, “…remove barriers faced by people living with disabilities,” under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as the intention for the ban.
While the institutes wholeheartedly support this intent, there is concern that the motion’s representation of MUDs may have missed some important nuances in the field of robotics. As it stands now, the motion could ultimately affect important research towards the realisation of service robots that are actually in line with the intentions of the city’s motion – removing barriers.
Ultimately, the U of T Robotics Institute, home to the largest and most diversified robotics research program in Canada, offered their technical expertise with the hope that they can be helpful in informing regulatory frameworks.