Robots Purge Homeless From San Francisco Sidewalks

As the homeless crisis on America’s West Coast forces many cities to the financial brink, one innovative animal shelter in San Francisco is using a low cost, high-tech robot security guard to shoo away the homeless outside its facilities, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) contracted Knightscope to provide a k5 robot (the same model which in July commited suicide at a mall fountain) for securing the outdoor spaces of the animal shelter. Knightscope’s business model allows the SPCA to rent the robot for around $7 an hour, which is about $3 less than the minimum wage in California. According to San Francisco Business Times, the robot was deployed as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”

The robot, weighing in at 400 pounds and standing over 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, has been autonomously patrolling the sidewalks of the facility with a top speed of 3 MPH for more than a month, as far as we can tell. Sensors and fancy technology integrated with-in the robot are used to deter the pesky homeless from setting up shop.

Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SPCA told the Business Times: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”

One resident was “freaked out” as the robot patrols the parking lot of the facility.

Another resident caught the robot cruising down the sidewalk at top speed.

The social media reaction, on the other hand, has been overwhelmingly negative, shaming the SPCA for deploying the robot for targeting the homeless, while some blamed capitalism.

Nevertheless, San Francisco recently voted on a bill to decrease the number of robots on city streets. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the city could charge the SPCA a fine upwards of $1,000 per day for not complying with the new regulations operating on city-owned sidewalks.

In a particularly dystopian move by the SPCA, the autonomous robot purging the homeless from city streets in San Fransico may be a harbinger of what is coming to America’s inner cities as the humans slowly but surely lose the war against robots, first in the labor market and then, everywhere else.


Mr. Universe Stuck on Zero Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:00 Permalink

Good for Ben Norton and his clear thinking???

...instead of providing homes for homeless people, spend exorbitant sums of money creating robots that will prevent homeless people from making homes for themselves.

Yes Ben, Homes are to be provided to ALL Americans as part of your birth right. If not enough homes are provided, then you can make your own on the street. Deficate wherever you choose, shoot up, get drunk, have sex and leave all the trash for others to pick up.After years of working with the homeless I can tell you less than 20% are the "victims" of circumstance. 60% are addicts, drunks or of diminished mental capicity unwilling to clean up or even follow shelter rules (this is a biggie). The remaining 20%, choose the modern Mountain-man in the city solo gig, but they ain't no Jeremiah Johnson.

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

Killdo knukles Thu, 12/14/2017 - 19:59 Permalink

touchy - feely my ass. I remember a couple of months or so walking from top of Russian Hill where I lived to Market Street - SF Opera at around 2 pm on a sunny day. I counted 12 (white ) young , dirty homeless injecting heroin in about 20 min it took me ta walk. I saw people passing by  - nobody gave a shit. I remember 2 women in their 60s (nicely dressed) walked by a group of 4 or so injectig heroin. They saw them but did not blink - I remember hearing what they were talking about - how one of them sent her whole class to Israel on a school exchange - and was very happy about it

In reply to by knukles

Utopia Planitia Mr. Universe Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:42 Permalink

Hey Ben! Give us your home address and leave the door unlocked. I feel like dropping a load and you living room seems like the ideal place! You don't mind, do you? With your endless blather about how everybody but YOU is evil and uncaring?  So let's get it on! I'm going to bring a bevy of my friends.  Might take you several days to clean up the mess once we are finished.

In reply to by Mr. Universe

cynicalskeptic waterwitch Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:01 Permalink

Dog and cat food were staples for people during the Great Depression.  If a pet food salesman could eat his product in front of a store owner, hte store would buy a case or two.Truth is that today's pet food in the West is a better meal than much of the world consumes The human race is headed towards near extinction.  The elites will become the Borg and the rest of us will be traded to the Reptilians as food.

In reply to by waterwitch

clade7 NoDecaf Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:57 Permalink

It looks like a damned gigantic Glade air freshener!...maybe a toilet paper hanger on the side would be a nice touch, a little pedal on the bottom like a trash can has for buttwipe disposal?....With the public shitting all over the place, why not?....little roving shitters!  Gotta be an App for that!

In reply to by NoDecaf

Bastiat NoDebt Thu, 12/14/2017 - 13:40 Permalink

Someone knocked it over and smeared shit on it."While employees have an easier time parking and navigating the sidewalk to work, others have reported people setting up a homeless encampment nearby for allegedly attacking the patrol robot. According to the San Francisco SPCA president, they "put a tarp over it, knocked it over, and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors." One twitter user reported seeing the robot smeared with feces."… party on R2D2!!

In reply to by NoDebt

DJ Happy Ending Boondocker Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:03 Permalink

in california, homeless bums have more rights than working people.

california cops frequently let bums walk after committing crimes because no revenue will be generated.

however, if i were to turn my garden hose on a bum shitting all over my stoop or leaving used needles in my doorway, i'd get hit with misdemeanor assault. happened to my neighbor.

please enlighten me with an easy solution, my patience is at an end. and no, leaving is not an easy solution.

In reply to by Boondocker

Son of Loki DJ Happy Ending Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:46 Permalink

Meanwhile...on the SF City Council agenda is discussion about the horrors of Global Warming and ideas how to jumpstart Jerry Brown's Bullet Rail from the Mexican Border to SF sanctuary city. Nothing mentioned about the homeless. They are "invisible." My friend lives in SF and she says people just walk past the homless and ignore them on their way to Starbucks, Berkely, etc....It's UTOPIA!

In reply to by DJ Happy Ending

BarkingCat DJ Happy Ending Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:48 Permalink

Do a search for something called Scarecrow. It is a motion-activated sprinkler system designed to repel pest animals.However it also works great on humans. I had a mailman cutting across my lawn everyday to the point that he actually made a path on the grass. This was a elevated portionof my yard. About 3 feet higher than the sidewalk.I setup a camera to record who was walking across my lawn and saw it was the mailman.First, using some planters,  I blocked the stairs that led to the lawn.  ...however I did not do a good enough job because he continued even though it was like obstacle course. Then I complete blocked the he switched to just climb up using my landscape retaining rocks (they are about 1.5 in diameter).So I blocked his path with surveyor stakes and landscaping ribbon between them. However he continued to cut across my lawn by simply stepping over the waist high ribbon.So, I took one of my Scarecrow devices and put it in a bush near his path.It is motion activated and sprays 2 cups of water in about 4 to 6 seconds.I wish I had setup the camera that day to catch the action, but I did not, but that mother fucker quit cutting across my yard.

In reply to by DJ Happy Ending

overbet Pure Evil Thu, 12/14/2017 - 13:57 Permalink

Clearly you are missing the point. There is money for a stray fucking animal to have a clean warm place to sleep, get medical treatment and be fed while there are homeless cold and hungry human beings on the sidewalk out front. No doubt some of them veterans that risked their lives and obviously lost some of their mental capacity in the process, in order for you to have the right to complain about them.  You go ahead and keep supporting these future robocops.

In reply to by Pure Evil

waspwench overbet Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:01 Permalink

It should not be an either/or situation. Animals suffer cold, hunger and fear as well as humans, all are entitled to consideration. Furthermore,I doubt that defunding animal shelters would make a dint in the homeless problem.

What does puzzle me, however, is what right does the animal shelter have to police the sidewalks? Sidewalks belong to the city, not the the animal shelter, and they are public rights-of-way. How does the animal shelter get to decide who can be on public property?

Maybe the local homeless folks can kidnap the robot and hold it for ransom.....

In reply to by overbet