SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
The San Francisco branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has deployed a security robot to deal with homeless camps in front of its offices. Rather than breaking up the camps, the robot is equipped with scanners and sensors to detect humans and GPS for reporting incidents to authorities. The security robots, manufactured by Knightscope, rent for $7 an hour and are used by at least 20 clients, including Microsoft and Uber. Since the robots have been deployed, the encampments have dispersed, the sidewalks are more sanitary, and the number of car smash-and-grab incidents has decreased. While some third parties have expressed gratitude for the robot’s efforts, others have asked why the animal-rescue organization is making an exception for humans. Homeless people have reportedly challenged the robot’s presence by putting a tarp over it, knocking it over, painting it with feces, and smearing barbecue sauce over its sensors. As for the authorities, they are okay with the robot so long as it can generate revenue. The city has fined the Society $1,000 a day for operating it without a permit.