Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

K9 Security Robot Gets Canned by San Francisco Animal Shelter

It's both the saddest and cutest story ever. After all, it involves an autonomous security robot getting canned by an animal shelter. One of Knightscope's gloriously cone shaped security robots, aptly named K9, has been taken permanently off duty by the San Francisco SPCA.

The SF SPCA got their robot in order to patrol around their building and in their parking lot, allegedly to deter homeless individuals from congregating around the building, and hopefully stem some of crime they've been experiencing. However, after repeated complaints from the homeless individuals that frequent the area, the organization decided to discontinue K9's use.

Robotic Rescue

The SF SPCA is located in a rather active crime area in San Francisco. The shelter itself has experienced break-ins, cars have been broken into, and property vandalized and stolen. The shelter actually does employ security guards, but the robot was meant to help out since guards can't be everywhere, and the shelter is actually rather large. As Ars Technica reported, the robot was actually effective and resulted in a reduction of petty crimes.

Unfortunately, due to the complaints about the invasiveness of the robot's surveillance, as well as new city anti-robot regulations, and city pressure, the SF SPCA pulled the plug on their robot K9.

Robot Rights?

Unfortunately for the fired robot, there likely are no enforceable employment rights. However, the company that provides the robots may very well have legal recourse depending on the contract terms. After all, getting one of these robots isn't quite as easy it would be for George Jetson.

But, given Knightscope, and its robots', friendly reputations, it's unlikely they'd want to garner negative media attention from a legal fight with a dog shelter that didn't want a robot to make homeless folk angry. Also, with how short of a time the K9 was in use, there may not be much recourse at all. After all, to get organizations to adopt new tech like this, there needs to be easy opt outs, otherwise entities would never take risks on new tech.

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