Anti-Homeless Robot Raises Eyebrows in San Francisco

File under 'high-tech urban dystopia.”

1 minute read

December 18, 2017, 8:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden


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These are not the droids you're looking for. | jessie essex / Flickr

After public backlash, an "autonomous security robot" deployed to ward off homeless people has been retired.

"The San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption group, put a security robot to work outside its facilities in the gentrifying Mission neighborhood … to deter homeless people from setting up camps along the sidewalks," reports Business Insider.

The robot, K9—which is plastered in pictures of cute animals—is part of a fleet created by Mountain View startup Knightscope. They're used by companies including Uber and Microsoft as a cheaper, "superhuman" replacement for human security guards.

"The company's robots don't fight humans," Business Insider assures readers. "They use equipment like lasers, cameras, a thermal sensor, and GPS to detect criminal activity and alert the authorities."

That wasn't enough to placate the many people who expressed outrage and disappointment on Twitter before the bot was retired; some expressed particular frustration that the anti-homeless campaign was launched by an animal shelter.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 in Business Insider

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