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Patrolling security robot gets deployed onto street, is promptly bullied and humiliated

Just like in a sci-fi dystopia, a patrolling robot in San Francisco has been the target of violence and discrimination by the local community who sees the artificial entity as a menace.

The San Francisco branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) deployed a Knightscope K5 security robot to patrol the streets near its building.

The SPCA says the sidewalks around its centre in the Mission District have become a camp for the city’s homeless population, which in turn has risen the criminal incidents in the area.

Krista Maloney, the SPCA’s media relations manager told Dezeen, “In the last year we’ve experienced a great deal of car break-ins, theft, and vandalism that has made us concerned about the security and safety of the people on our campus.”

In order to improve the safety of their employees, the shelter decided to deploy the Knightscope robot, but things didn’t go as expected… if you don’t read much sci-fi that is.

K5’s presence angered the local community to such a degree that people started to attack the artificial patroller.

The poor robot – which actually looks like a cross between Disney’s EVE and a Dalek – has been kicked and knocked over, had its sensors doused with barbecue sauce, and according to some witnesses, people even smeared faeces all over its shell.

People also went on social media to heavily criticise the robot, targeting it with a myriad of expletives and accusing the shelter of deploying K5 against the homeless.

Maloney defended the initiative, saying, “The security robot that we’ve been using on a pilot basis has been very effective at deterring these criminal incidents. The device helps us prevent crime; it doesn’t attempt to remove homeless people from the sidewalk.”

The SPCA was ultimately forced to take the 400-pound machine off the streets to avoid a $1,000-a-day fine for operating K5 in public areas without a permit.

It’s not the first time Knightscope’s robots have been the centre of controversy and mockery. Recently, one of their units knocked a toddler over in Silicon Valley, and another missed a set of stairs and fell into a pond in Washington.

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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