Humans Fight Back: San Fran Security Robot Attacked, Knocked Over, Smeared With Feces

Earlier today, we mentioned the bizarre story of a San Francisco animal shelter which was using a low cost, high-tech robot security guard to purge homeless people outside its facilities. The San Francisco SPCA branch had contracted Knightscope to provide a K5 robot (the same model which in July committed suicide at a mall fountain) for securing the outdoor spaces of the animal shelter. 

Why use a robot to chase away humans? Simple: money - it costs the SPCA $7/hour to rent the robot, about $3 less than the minimum wage in California, and 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.”

Everything was going great - and very cost-efficiently too - until the local humans fought back, knocked the robot over, and smearing it with feces before eventually forcing the robotic guardian to be purged itself.

But first, the local community's anger at the unwelcomed K5's presence manifested itself in the way anger and outrage always seem to emerge these days: on twitter.

What happened then is straight out of Terminator: according to reports, a group of anti-robot vigilantes doused the K5's 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 robot upset local resident Fran Taylor:

Last month, the robot approached Taylor while she walked her dog near the SPCA campus. Her dog started lunging and barking, she said, and Taylor yelled for the robot to stop. It finally came to a halt about 10 feet away, she said. The encounter struck Taylor as an “unbelievable” coincidence since she had been working with pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco in asking the city to limit sidewalk delivery robots. That legislation is expected to receive final approval soon but doesn’t apply to security robots like K9.


Taylor said she’s concerned about robots bumping into people on the sidewalks. She knows robots are often equipped with sensors so they don’t do that, she added, but “I don’t really trust that.”


She wrote an email to the SPCA the day of her encounter and copied several San Francisco government officials, including Mayor Ed Lee and members of the Board of Supervisors. The SPCA team responded and cited security concerns as the motivation for starting to use the robot.

"The money that was spent on these robots could have gone towards homeless shelters," said another twitter user who clearly did not do pass Econ 101.

As we reported earlier, the shelter said it released the robot, nicknamed K9, to patrol the pavements around its centre in the Mission District, which has become a camp for the city's homeless population.

"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," the SPCA's president Jennifer Scarlett told the Business Times.

The shelter told one website that it only hoped to improve the safety of its employees, following an influx of crime in the surrounding area, and that it is "extremely sensitive" to the issue of homelessness.

"In the last year we've experienced a great deal of car break-ins, theft, and vandalism that has made us concerned about the security and safety of the people on our campus," the SPCA's media relations manager Krista Maloney told Dezeen. "The security robot that we've been using on a pilot basis has been very effective at deterring these criminal incidents."

The revulsion to the robot was bizarre: hardly reminiscent of the T1000, the bubbly K5 is equipped with four cameras that monitor its surroundings, and moves on wheels at speeds of up to three miles per hour. It measures 5 feet tall and nearly 3 feet wide at its base, creating a sizeable obstacle on the pavement. To be sure, the rollout of this particular model has been problematic: the K5 has already been embroiled in other controversies elsewhere, including knocking a toddler over in Silicon Valley, and falling into a pond in Washington DC after missing a set of stairs.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is already tightening restrictions on autonomous machines on the streets – particularly delivery robots – with growing concerns over public safety.

What is most perplexing in this story, is that this is just one robot provoking such a broad and angry response: one wonders what the human backlash will be once a vast portion of America's middle class realizes that it has been made obsolete courtesy of robots who can do its job faster, smarter, much more efficiently and for a fraction of the cost.


Buckaroo Banzai Bigly Thu, 12/14/2017 - 21:58 Permalink

""In the last year we've experienced a great deal of car break-ins, theft, and vandalism that has made us concerned about the security and safety of the people on our campus," the SPCA's media relations manager Krista Maloney told Dezeen."So vibrant! So diverse! And the ethnic food is so delicious!

In reply to by Bigly

wildbad Overfed Fri, 12/15/2017 - 04:56 Permalink

have they turned on the laser or poison gas features yet?

facial recognition beamed straight to your local fusion center willl ensure excellent public compliance.

citizen x5rdf2173 you were seen on coordinate at 21:03:21:13 by node number 3177895xr333 comitting an infraction against social rule 2199876.313 which carries with it a freedom deduction of 365 days (with possible reduction for chip compliance participation program).

report to fusion center alpha303 immediately

if compliance is not realized within 72 hours stun arrest countermeasures will be approved and all further encounters with peace units wil be dealt with at this level.

In reply to by Overfed

LightBeamCowboy TwelveOhOne Fri, 12/15/2017 - 13:09 Permalink

Hey, the robot doesn't mind being smeared with feces as much as the Mexican illegal who would otherwise have gotten this job. Maybe with enough robots in all low-wage job categories San Fran won't need to be a sanctuary city anymore. They never really liked hordes of Mexicans in their streets anyway, they just couldn't stop themselves from virtue signalling. BTW, I moved out of SF 25 years ago after living there for 25 years, with hordes of Mexican illegals in the streets even back then being on my short list of reasons to get out. It is immensely worse now.

In reply to by TwelveOhOne

Vageling any_mouse Fri, 12/15/2017 - 05:13 Permalink

Hey! I got a better idea! You know... Instead of smashing it, lets put the EMP theory to test. What I saw on GoebbelsTube it ain't hard to build a mini EMP. Well... If you have a brain and two hands that can do more than fingerfuck some stupid spyphone, that is. ;) We can see if that EMP works, and if it does? Hah! Cheap? Replace the chips. How's that for cost? Strap one on this little aluminum Wall-E's and see them turn into scrap. They cancel this little project in no time due to high costs.

In reply to by any_mouse

Vageling nmewn Fri, 12/15/2017 - 05:28 Permalink

Yeah... But you see. Since they're anti gun and shit the good part is nobody will scream for arming these little aluminum toys. Sjees! Even libtards don't take orders from some tincan with chips. I know I wouldn't. Feces? Meh, amateurs. I have some nasty substances that would melt through its core.See! Sometimes there is common ground. They blame the wrong thing [capitalism] nonetheless, but ok.Robots chasing off homeless? I doubt they care. It's that you can't eat plastic and aluminum otherwise these little Wall-E's would end up being cooked for consumption ;)Which idiots came up with this absurd plan anyway? No knowledge of human nature nor reality. Morons.

In reply to by nmewn

Socratic Dog Vageling Fri, 12/15/2017 - 11:25 Permalink

Nah, guns is good in SF if there's a uniform involved.  A robot's gotta be an honorary uniform.Fucking amazes me how the left has embraced authoritarianism in recent decades.  60's "counterculture" (yeah, I know, it was organized by the CIA, but the lefty plebs believed in it) to being on board with 17 intelligence agencies and anything in a uniform.I love asking lefties how it feels to be on the same side as the CIA now.

In reply to by Vageling

Vageling Bigly Fri, 12/15/2017 - 05:39 Permalink

Meh, they haven't figured out how to keep these tincans under control with a 50 cal. It would require human control, which costs them money. I'm sure they'll start with tasers first. Untill pops who's a little slow get his heart tasered to cardiac 'arrest' (pun intended).

In reply to by Bigly

rejected Thu, 12/14/2017 - 21:48 Permalink

America's middle class realizes that it has been made obsolete courtesy of robots who can do its job faster, smarter, much more efficiently and for a fraction of the cost. Absolutely false,,, but it's a new fad and like Bitcoin it will until it won't.