"We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots."
That was the comment of Twitter user Bilal Farooqui who this afternoon surprised the social network with a bizarre image: a robot which "commited suicide" by drowning itself in a public fountain.
The Knightscope K5 security robot was supposed to patrol the Georgetown Waterfront, a ritzy shopping-and-office complex along the Washington Harbour in D.C. Looking like a mutant hybrid of R2D2 and a Dalek, the K5 was built to be a crime-fighting robot that could rove the streets and monitor for suspicious activity. It has been used in some offices and malls across America.
But, in the absurdist take of NY Mag, "the pressure was too much for the rolling robot, which can turn, beep, and whistle in order to maintain order."
At one point today, it had had enough, rolled into fountain and drowned itself.
The robot's maker, Knightscope, describes itself as "an advanced security technology company that uses Software + Hardware + Humans to provide its clients with advanced anomaly detection capabilities. Knightscope's long-term vision is to predict and prevent crime utilizing autonomous robots, analytics and engagement." It may soon also need to provide therapy to its "robotic guard army."
To be sure, the robot has pros and cons. It’s a good deal for any place that wants something patrolling an area on the cheap. It’ll roll around malls or parking lots, with rental prices starting at $7 per hour — 25 cents less than the federal minimum wage. Uber uses it to patrol certain parking lots. On the downside, NY Mag reports that it’s has been knocked over by a drunk man. Before that, it knocked down and ran over a 16-month-old boy.
Those caught up in the robot's existential plight, and who would like to make a donation to some greater cause to cleanse their irrational guilt, can do so on Knightscope's Seedinvest page: the company is seeking to raise up to $20 million in a Series M round at a pre-money valuation of $80 million.