Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
Published on November 30, 2017
SPCA Hires Security Robot To Patrol Mission CampusPhoto: Knightscope/Facebook

The San Francisco SPCA at Rescue Row has a new guard dog—a Knightscope autonomous robot is now patrolling the animal welfare society's Mission campus.

As Mission Local reports, the device is nicknamed "K9," though the model is technically a K5. At 398 pounds, the machine stands more than five feet tall and appears to be able to say short phrases, such as "pardon me."

The device has already received feedback from dog owners on social media; the area is frequented by walkers from Animal Care & Control and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, which are housed on the same block.

"Not the robot overlords I was expecting," Instagram user radhegovinda wrote. Daniel Golinski posted a video of the robot on YouTube while walking his dog.\

"It's freaking me out," he says, while the robots blinks. "You don't seem to mind," Golinski added, addressing his dog.

a ghost story in theatres july 7 2017

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At least one dog had a very negative reaction. "Ginger went berserk, barking and leaping on the leash," Fran Taylor told Mission Local.

Krista Maloney, an SPCA spokesperson, said the area has already seen a significant decrease in graffiti, car break-ins, as well as encampments around the organization's parking lot after deploying K5 a few weeks ago.

Via email, Maloney told Hoodline that the pilot program started in early November, and an end date is still to be determined. "We want to make sure we have enough time to fully evaluate the robot’s effectiveness," she said.

She said the SPCA has found that the vast majority of dogs are either inquisitive or indifferent when they see the robot.

"Just like people, dogs have different personalities and past experiences that inform how they respond to what they encounter in the world," Maloney added.

11-13-17: Security! Something is following me! Oh wait that’s is security😏

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According to the manufacturer's website, K5 is best suited for securing large outdoor spaces, such as parking lots, corporate campuses or hospitals and cost around $7 an hour to operate.

The robot captures audio and video 24/7, and evidence of vandalism or other crime will be sent to the San Francisco Police Department, Maloney said.

Knightscope robots use a number of sensors, similar to driverless vehicles, to dynamically negotiate patrol routes and avoid obstacles, Stacy Dean Stephens, the company's VP of marketing and sales said via email.

He adds that when it comes to battery longevity, there are many variables, "but roughly speaking the robots will charge themselves every couple of hours."

And as far as city regulations go, District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee's proposal to require companies to obtain permits for using delivery robots on city sidewalks for now does not include regulations for security robots, Mission Local notes.