SAN FRANCISCO: A security robot tasked with ‘keeping away’ homeless people from outside smart office buildings has been knocked over after torrent of complaints from the locals.
The automated guard was hired by an animal charity in San Francisco to deal with growing amounts of crime related to people sleeping on the sidewalks.
The K5’s presence also angered the local community, who took to social media to complain.
Reports claimed that a group doused its sensors with barbecue sauce, knocked it over and veiled it with a tarp. One Twitter user claimed they saw feces smeared on its shell, while another described the robot’s use as “shameful”.
“The money that was spent on these robots could have gone towards homeless shelters,” said another tweet.
The shelter said it released the robot, nicknamed K9, to patrol the pavements around its centre in the Mission District, which had become a camp for the city’s homeless population.
Dubbed K9, the R2D2 like bot has faced a backlash from angry locals, who have repeatedly vandalised the droid as it patrols the streets.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is a non-profit organisation that occupies the office block.
The K9 robots weigh around 400lbs (180kg) and are roughly 1.5 m tall (1.5m).
Since the robot started its work one month ago, there have been fewer car break-ins and homeless people using the space, Jennifer Scarlett, the organization’s president said.
However, within a week of the automated night-watchman starting his rounds, it clashed with locals.
“Effective immediately, the San Francisco SPCA has suspended its security robot pilot program,” Scarlett wrote in a statement emailed to The Washington Post. “We piloted the robot program in an effort to improve the security around our campus and to create a safe atmosphere for staff, volunteers, clients and animals. Clearly, it backfired.”
“The SF SPCA was exploring the use of a robot to prevent additional burglaries at our facility and to deter other crimes that frequently occur on our campus — like car break-ins, harassment, vandalism, and graffiti — not to disrupt homeless people,” Scarlett’s statement said. “We regret that our words were ill-chosen. They did not properly convey the pilot program’s intent and they inaccurately reflected our values.”