Silicon Valley Security Guard Robot Injures Toddler

And violates the first rule of robotics

Robots make cheap security guards, but they don’t necessarily make the best security guards. Last week, a guard robot at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, collided with a 16-month-old and kept driving. ABC 7 News reports:

The robot is a Knightscope guard, similar to the kind Uber tested for patrolling its parking lots. The robots patrol pre-programmed routes or in geo-fenced areas, and can record video in normal and infrared vision. They’re rented as a pair, with one patrolling while the other recharges, for just $7 hour. That’s $3/hour less than California’s minimum wage.

In Uber’s parking lot, where local drivers report for regular vehicle inspections, the robots are likely to only ever encounter adults or cars, both of which have a fairly uniform height and predictable movement patterns. In a mall, filled with the full range and variety of human life, robots should be able to notice and navigate around toddlers. That’s not just elementary, it’s pre-K.

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.