Authorities have terminated the operation of a security robot in a San Francisco neighbourhood after locals brought allegation of harassing homeless people in public spaces against it.
The five feet tall, 400-pound robot of Knightscope’s “K5” model, which come with four surveillance cameras and are "best suited for securing large outdoor spaces", was rented by the San Francisco animal welfare non-profit, SF SPCA, to roam around its parking space and grounds in response to a recent burglary, reports Mashable.
However, much to the dismay of its neighbours, the SF SPCA also let the robot to patrol the public sidewalk outside its property in San Francisco's Mission district.
While private businesses are certainly free to deploy security robots on private property, these surveillance machines generally are not allowed to patrol public spaces.
The SF SPCA used the Knightscope robot to deter a homeless encampment from setting up tents on the sidewalks adjacent to its building and parking lot. In response, some members of the encampment covered the robot in a tarp and lathered its sensors with barbecue sauce, the San Francisco Business Times reports quoting SF SPCA's President Dr Jennifer Scarlett.
The SF SPCA has pulled the plug on its robot after being sent an overwhelming number of complaints, reports Ars Technica.
The city's Department of Public Works (DFW) had told the SF SPCA in a letter sent last week to keep its robot off of the sidewalks "without a proper approval", reports the San Francisco Business Times.
The SF SPCA made headlines after it rented the robot from Knightscope, a security startup.
Earlier this year, one of Knightscope’s K5 security robots drowned itself in a pool at a Washington DC mall.
Also, in 2016, another Knightscope K5 robot ran over and injured a toddler at a mall in California, according to a CNN report.
Apparently, these new robots are still learning their way, so people can certainly be wary of the slow-moving, though rather imposing robots.