Robot-guard freaks, the homeless and the neighbors …


Mall cop of the future?

To Knightscope K5

The San Francisco SPCA, a non-profit whose mission is “to save and protect animals … and enhancing the human-animal bond,” is reportedly doing just the opposite with the latest robot security guard.

It is frightening the homeless that hang out near the SHELTER’s building in the Mission section of the city, which was part of the objective, but it is freaking out residents.

According to the San Francisco Business Times, the robot may be called K9 ─ was to try and deal with the number of needles, car break-ins and other crimes that are allegedly coming from a nearby camp of homeless people.


“We were not able to use the sidewalks if there are needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking point of view, I like the robot a lot easier to navigate than a camp,” Jennifer Scarlett, SPCA president, said in an interview with the San Francisco Business Times.

After the SPCA, the implement of the robot, Scarlett said the homeless camps are gone and fewer cars were broken into. She added that it was not clear whether the robot was the cause of the decline in crime, but that there was a correlation.

At the sight of the robot, a number of the people in the camp that their annoyance, making barbecue sauce on the sensors, knocking them over and putting up a tarp, Scarlett said.

The people in the homeless camp were not the only ones who were freaked out by the robot.

San Francisco resident Fran Taylor, who lives near the SHELTER’s location, said the robot approached her and her dog while they are outside for a walk. The dog began to bark and tried to go near, while she yelled at him to stop. The robot eventually stopped 10 metres away from her.

Taylor wound up writing a letter to the SPCA, that her displeasure after her run-in with the robot. The SPCA responded to say it had concerns about the security and that the robot was a part of the solution.

Last week, the city of San Francisco ordered the SPCA to ensure that the robot from the sidewalks or it would face a $1,000 per day fine to operate on public roads without a permit.


This is not the first run-in citizens across the country have had with the robot guards.

In January, a Knightscope robot was seen patrolling in the streets of New York and attracted the attention of curious onlookers.

In April, a man in Mountain View, California attacked a 300-pound safety K5 robot made by Knightscope on the campus. He claimed that he tried to “test” the robot and eventually was charged with drunk in public and a Knightscope employee requested his arrest for prowling.

In July, a Knightscope robot drowned herself in a fountain, after it had been “hired” to patrol in a Washington, DC office building.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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