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.


Trogdor Dec 15, 2017 5:55 PM Permalink

SanFranMan: "These slow-moving, self-guided robots are a MENACE TO SOCIETY!! They need to be banned before someone gets hurt!!"

*and in the same breath*

People need to stop DRIVING and OWNING CARS! Self-Driving Cars are the FUTURE - and only !!EARTH HATERS!! would fight having them on every street in America! MANDATORY SELF-DRIVING CARS NOW!

Every day, another example of how Liberalism is 100% a mental disease....

The One... Dec 15, 2017 12:07 PM Permalink

These things look familiar...EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!Oh yeah, now I remember. Where's the fucking Doctor when you need him? Useless fucking Time Lord!

the artist Dec 15, 2017 11:09 AM Permalink

The solution is to put bumper stickers on them that read, "One Less Pedestrian"or"One Less Useless Eater"or"One Less Voter"Then the libtards will understand. 

exartizo Dec 15, 2017 9:28 AM Permalink

That's one Tasty Robot.

Well, without the poo anyway.

But you've got to give some Unemployed Homeless Culinary Artist credit for the BBQ Sensor thing.

If the Robot Haters in San Francisco think that they will be successful in preventing Haute Robot use in their city,


btw there's a 12 step program for that....

RHA... Robot Haters Anonymous.

bcking Mr Toad Dec 15, 2017 8:38 AM Permalink

They're not shelterless, they're bums and assholes. Ever live in one of these areas? They're drug addicts, losers and scumbags. They don't want to live inside. They want to avoid societal norms and shit on the sidewalk or in an elevator. Aside from the few innocent mentally ill, the homeless are just bums. I say take them up in a plane to 30,000 feet and drop them over the Pacific somewhere. 

In reply to by Mr Toad

Grandad Grumps Dec 15, 2017 6:07 AM Permalink

The problem is not the robots. The problem is the way of thinking about the world and humans that make them possible. The human experience in this world is not enhance by robots.

anonymike Dec 15, 2017 5:18 AM Permalink

Business opportunity. Robot tasers, aka FryBot. Difference is, large separation between opposite potential contacts, designed to kill robots. One contact attaches or penetrates upon impact near base, providing a ground path. Other contact(s) for positive charge applied on top end (more is better). Then quickly unload a substantial capacitor to fry the electronics and maybe even cause some mechanical damage.This idea is now published in the public space by this post, so any attempt to patent it can be defeated. We need a bunch of competition in this emerging industry of robot eliminators.

anonymike Pinot-Noir Dec 15, 2017 7:42 AM Permalink

You can't own an idea or a name. Patents, trademarks and copyrights exist to protect large corporations from small competition. However, they are worthless to those who can't afford enough lawyers to defend them. Just another fascist system of large corporations, partnered with their government, to control the all means and output of production.Imagine how far technologically advanced the world would would be if not for retardation of progress by intellectual property "laws". Those are the same intellectual property weapons that would be used to slow the advance of FryBot capabilities against the powers that be.FryBots should be developed secretly in people's garages, then as many sold as possible into a wide open competitive market. The maker with the best product, based on buyer ratings on independent websites, will rise to the top, selling directly or through authorize distributors to avoid substandard copycats.I hereby give the idea and name FryBot to the world and declare it free of fascist entanglements, in order to start the technology advancing ahead of the enforcer bots. Its always easier to destroy something than to create it.

In reply to by Pinot-Noir

the artist anonymike Dec 15, 2017 11:47 AM Permalink

I had to respond to your third paragraph with a thousand upvotes if I could. If I was in college again the drone wars would be my thesis.  I have been thinking about this for ten years now and it is amazing to see the collective conciousness wake up to the new realities and new possibilities. I would argue that the system of oppressions that are in place rely too much on tech. Tech in this manner takes too long to develop and bring to market. Its too complex and easily defeated using the very same components that are readily available on the open market. These components cannot be restricted because the defence/corporate/fascist/central state needs them available cheap and in mass quantities in order to build the next machine to control us. But that machine is easily defeated and so on, and so on. Think about the DC sniper and what he accomplished. Now imagine what he could do from 300 miles away and with total annonymity. We are in a war that the central state cannot win. That realization is the chaos that we are now seeing in the world today. We are coming of age. 

In reply to by anonymike

the artist anonymike Dec 15, 2017 11:32 AM Permalink

I upvoted you for the first paragraph but I disagree with your second. It is a muddy area for sure but as tech gets more and more complex there would be no investment in time or resources without at least some sort of guarantee of return on that investment. If all of your work bleeds out and you are suddenly competing with a hundred others who are not hindered by capital investment then you are quickly drowned. The cost of this practice may be what you are getting at is that some tech gets squelched in the name of the bottom line. Classic example is Betamax vs vhs. Much can be learned from studying the apple vs IBM model for example. The result of that is that we have grown the tech in a specific sector because of the protections of patents. It is a fascinating subject when we think back to what happenned from the invention of the wheel to present day. Why was progress so slow in the beginning? War, famine, religion not to mention time had to wait for all of the geniuses to be born is succession and the right circumstances. All to say that it is not as simple as controlling a single variable. I am all for eliminating the central banks and their wars. Lets start there and see where it goes. Now, the argument could be made for less time honored for the monopoly or even no time at all. That is a different subject altogether and I am willing to curtail or eliminate the power of the central state to place their ugly thumb on the scale for any individual or group at the expense of another. The argument could also be made that we have reached a plateau of usefulness for tech or an escape velocity, ie we have what we need to shepherd us through the next thousand years. And now we can relax the protections and let everyone use the tools at hand to create the next plateau. This is why retards that invoke and rail against the current system of "capitalism" are retarded...because capitalism would not concern itself with placing its ugly thumb on the scale for any group or individual...That is called central planning, fascism, socialism etc. True capitalism ceased the day Jefferson lost to the compramise on intellectual property. The solution now is to decentralize the power structure, return sovereignity to the individual first then outward from there. Now, thanks to tech and specifically Social Media, there is a chance that that can happen. 

In reply to by anonymike

Sudden Debt Dec 15, 2017 4:36 AM Permalink

that money could have gone to homeless shelters... another socialist who wants to decide what others have to do with their money.I'd just build a new robot but with more defensive gadgets. And the bums are still outside. So: they can move out and leave the entire neighbourhood so it turns into a ghosttownand the bums will just move to somebody else his doorstep.