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Mall security robot ditches police duty, goes for a dunk in fountain


July 18, 2017

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Mall security robot ditches police duty, goes for a dunk in fountain

On the heels of Dubai police deploying its first real-life Robocop, MRP Reality and Allied Universal last week announced a pilot program at Washington Harbour where they deployed their own robot police officer. But instead of staying true to its oath to serve and protect, the U.S. bot went for a swim.

“That’s right, folks – we have a new sheriff in town. . . . in the form of a robot!” wrote an ecstatic MRP Reality on Facebook. “We’re super excited to announce our new test pilot security technology in partnership with our friends at Allied Universal … P.S. We’ve been calling him Steve.”

The “K5” model, built by robotics startup Knightscope, boasts an array of flagship security features, including advanced anomaly detection, gun detection, forensic capabilities, live 360-degree video streaming and real-time notifications.

The team announced Steve’s first tasks were to map the grounds “to be fully autonomous and ready to launch in the upcoming days.” And map he did. When he was done with the cartography of Washington Harbour’s dry areas, he took on the building’s fountains, as depicted in the above photo snapped by Bilal Farooqui.

Farooqui, who works in the complex, captioned the tweet, saying “Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself. We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots.”

It isn’t immediately clear how the machine ended up in the fountain. Stacy Dean Stephens, Knitscope’s VP of marketing and sales, told Cnet that this was “an isolated incident” and that “no people were harmed or involved in any way.” The company has since dispatched a brand-new K5 unit to DC.

Going by the image, we can safely deduce that Steve ventured a few inches too close to the public fountain, perhaps mesmerized by the inviting stairway going down into the pool.

Speculation aside, such glitches are commonplace as more and more robotic security guards are deployed across the globe. One such incident, as reported by ABC last year, involved a similar security robot running over a toddler in a mall, as the child’s parents watched in dismay.

Like any new technology, the K5 is going through growing pains. A few more trial runs and the bot will surely be able to fulfill its duties more rigorously, and with a lesser attraction for staircases and water sports.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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