The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals bought a "security robot" to harass homeless people at its Mission District offices, a move that the city has banned and threatened $1,000/day fines for.
The SPCA called the robot "K9" and said it would prevent car break-ins. Mostly it was aimed at harassing homeless people who live in nearby tents. They claim the robot successfully evicted the homeless people from those sidewalks, presumably getting them good, sustainable homes and just merely moving them to another part of the city (right? right?).
Before the homeless people were chased off, they flung a tarp over the robot, knocked it over and covered its sensors with barbecue sauce.
On Dec. 1, the Department of Public Works sent the SPCA an email saying that the robot is operating in the public right-of-way "without a proper approval.” SPCA would have to stop using the robot on sidewalks or request a proper permit, according to the DPW email reviewed by the Business Times.
Scarlett said the SPCA stopped using the robot on the sidewalks and handed the issue over to the robot’s maker, Mountain View-based Knightscope, for further discussion with the city. Knightscope didn't respond to a request for comment about the status of those talks.
The robot is a K5 unit and has a top speed of three miles per hour, according to Knightscope’s website. The units are more than five feet tall and weigh 400 pounds. They are equipped with four cameras, “each capable of reading up to 300 license plates per minute” and sending alerts when trespassers or people on a “blacklist” are in an area.
Security robot that deterred homeless encampments in the Mission gets rebuke from the city [Alisha Green/San Francisco Business Times]
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