San Francisco is one of a number of local and state governments that have decided to render help to low-income workers by jacking up the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The food service industry has become particularly hard hit as its margins are too thin to absorb such an increase in labor costs. So fast food joints and even high-end restaurants are moving to automation to help defray the cost. However, according to the UK Guardian, San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee is proposing legislation that would ban delivery robots that can take meals from the restaurant to your front door.

It’s about public safety and not about keeping people employed

The stated reason for the anti-robot legislation is not Luddite or a desire to force the greedy restaurateurs to keep their $15 an hour employees on the payroll. It’s all about Public Safety. The idea is that delivery robot are constantly going to run down the elderly, the infirm, and children. Manufacturers of the delivery robots say that the fears are overblown. The delivery robots will be small, agile, and have navigation systems to help them avoid contact with obstacles, including human beings.

Delivery robots as cost savers

Delivery robots would cut costs by replacing people who demand a salary, health care, and who tend to take time off at inconvenient times.

Instead of vans driven by people, clogging traffic and double parking, little suitcase-sized robots will scoot along sidewalks to their destinations. Amazon and other companies are working on aerial drones that can deliver packages. Using sensors and on board, computers should allow these robots to be able to navigate their way to their destinations without too much trouble.

The same technology will drive autonomous cars.

The automation revolution coming to a restaurant near you

Delivery robots are not the only things that will replace people. A visit to your local McDonalds or Pizza Hut will likely involve ordering and paying at a kiosk rather than interacting with a teenager behind the counter.

Your food will probably be cooked by a robot as well. Even in a high end, sit down place, you will soon be able to order a meal from a tablet at the table, have it delivered by a robot, and then pay for the dinner without having to interact with another human being.

San Francisco’s city parents are going to have to be imaginative to work in a public safety angle to ban those devices. It is already thinking of slapping a tax on robots. The bluest of cities in the United States will no longer be able to consider itself “progressive” in any sense of the word.