Knightscope’s robot security guards are mired in controversy again, this time after the San Francisco SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) deployed a unit to try to deter homeless people from camping in tents on its property.
Unable to deal with the growing number of “needles, car break-ins and crime” surrounding its establishment, the San Francisco SPCA enlisted a K5 unit from Knightscope – a machine that has been in the news before, and for all the wrong reasons.
The K5 is an autonomous robot that can be programmed to serve as anything from delivery boy to security guard thanks to an array of sensors and cameras, voice capabilities and wireless communication technology.
However, the K5 hasn’t exactly earned widespread public respect.
As reported by The Verge, some San Francisco residents, upset by the SPCA’s initiative, vented on Twitter.
Leslie Lee III tweeted, “Dear San Francisco, It is your duty to destroy these things if you see them.”
“Capitalism: instead of providing homes for homeless people, spend exorbitant sums of money creating robots that will prevent homeless people from making homes for themselves,” opined a journalist.
Within about a week of the SPCA deploying the robot, people setting up a camp in the area “put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors,” Jennifer Scarlett, the S.F. SPCA’s president, told the San Francisco Business Times.
And the City of San Francisco says it will fine the SPCA $1,000 for every day that the K5 roams its sidewalks, as it is acting outside state regulations.
Scarlett says she gets it.
“I can understand being scared about a new