San Francisco Using Robots to Purge Homeless From Sidewalks

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Looks like San Francisco has a low-cost solution to getting homeless people off the streets. Since they can’t afford the hiring real people after passing the higher minimum wage law, they’ve elected to go with robots. That’s right! So what if they passed laws to appease other liberals for higher minimum wage, they prefer robots over people. I’m sorry. It’s just business.

Reported by The Blaze, the San Francisco SPCA is using an autonomous robot to deter homeless people from loitering outside its sprawling facility in the Mission neighborhood.

Krista Maloney, a spokeswoman for the SF SPCA, told Business Insider that the pet adoption and animal advocacy organization bought the robot because too many homeless people were blocking the sidewalks. So far, it seems to be working, she said. There are fewer homeless people around and fewer car break-ins, according to Maloney.

The robot is called K9 and has pictures of dogs and cats pasted on it.

San Francisco Public Works employee and homeless advocate Sam Dodge wrote about the robot on Twitter:

Yes, 2017 was the first time I saw robots used to prevent encampments in SF. Hard to believe but it’s real.

According to ‘BoingBoing. Net’ When the city of San Francisco learned about the robot, it ordered the nonprofit to either get a permit to operate in a public right-of-way or face a fine of up to $1,000 a day, according to published reports.

The SPCA called the robot “K9” and said it would prevent car break-ins. Mostly it was aimed at harassing homeless people who live in nearby tents. They claim the robot successfully evicted the homeless people from those sidewalks, presumably getting them good, sustainable homes and just merely moving them to another part of the city (right? right?).

Before the homeless people were chased off, they flung a tarp over the robot, knocked it over and covered its sensors with barbecue sauce.

On Dec. 1, the Department of Public Works sent the SPCA an email saying that the robot is operating in the public right-of-way “without a proper approval.” SPCA would have to stop using the robot on sidewalks or request a proper permit, according to the DPW email reviewed by the Business Times.

Scarlett said the SPCA stopped using the robot on the sidewalks and handed the issue over to the robot’s maker, Mountain View-based Knightscope, for further discussion with the city. Knightscope didn’t respond to a request for comment about the status of those talks.

How does the technology work?

The robot use four cameras and “lasers and sensors” to scan for criminal activity, according the website for Knightscope, a start-up company in Mountain View, California, that builds the robots. If criminal activity is suspected, the robots alert a “human authority.”

Notifications are also sent out for trespassers or people who are “on a blacklist,” the San Francisco Business Times reported.

the robot is a K5 unit and has a top speed of three miles per hour, according to Knightscope’s website. The units are more than five feet tall and weigh 400 pounds. They are equipped with four cameras, “each capable of reading up to 300 license plates per minute” and sending alerts when trespassers or people on a “blacklist” are in an area.

Are cities struggling to regulate robots?

San Francisco’s plight reflects the struggle cities can face as they try to regulate the new technology. Robots are already scanning for crime and delivering food in cities in cities such as Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Tampa.

San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee wanted to ban the technology due to safety concerns. He later agreed to strict regulations on the technology. ZD Net, a technology news website, reported the new rules ban robots in most of the city. Yee told ZD Net his office is riddled with pedestrian complaints about the autonomous robots.


“Not every innovation is all that great for society,” Yee said at a board of supervisors hearing last week when the new robot rules were approved.

Are more robots coming?

If developers of this new technology have their way, we’ll see more robots buzzing along our streets.

“We’re about to see a rising of this type of technology,” Stacy Dean Stephens, a co-founder of Knightscope, told McClatchy News in October. “It’s very reasonable to believe that by the end of next year, we’d have a couple of hundred of these out.”

Pretty wild, if you ask me. Totally stuff right out of ‘Star Wars’. And we thought Dick Tracy was cool, right? Or maybe even the Jetsons? Then, came Star Wars and Robocops.

Bet those wonderful brainless millennials who elected these wonderful liberal politicians to raise their minimum wages to at least $15/hr didn’t see this coming did they?

Driverless cars, robots on streets shooing homeless people, drones in the sky, what’s next?

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