News & Politics

Bay Area Security Robot 'Fired' After It Harasses Homeless People

(Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

San Francisco is a city that has become very wealthy during the tech boom but also struggles with that success because of its collectivist, socialist history. Being awash in capitalist success doesn’t really fit with the city’s personality.

The love/hate relationship isn’t just about the money, but sometimes about the technology itself. So it isn’t surprising that an experiment by a local SPCA chapter to deploy a security robot to patrol its property has ended in what can only be described as a hot mess.

From The Washington Post:

What could go wrong? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

In the past month, his first on the job, “K-9″ — a 5-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide K5 Autonomous Data Machine that can be rented for $6 an hour from Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope — was battered with barbecue sauce, allegedly smeared with feces, covered by a tarp and nearly toppled by an attacker.

As if those incidents weren’t bad enough, K-9 was also accused of discriminating against homeless people who had taken up refuge on the sidewalks he was assigned to patrol. It was those troubling allegations, which went viral this week, that sparked public outrage and prompted K-9’s employers — the San Francisco chapter of the animal rescue group SPCA — to pull the plug on their newly minted robot security pilot program.

Some social media responses were less than measured, like this one:

Who doesn’t go straight to destruction of property as a response to everything?

SPCA officials told the Post that they’ve received threats because of the robot. That’s right, a group dedicated to protecting abused animals is under siege from unhinged leftists because its security robot didn’t behave in a perfect manner. Imagine if it had been deployed by an organization that did something people found objectionable.

The SPCA issued an apology and reassured the mob that it is not, in fact, anti-homeless.