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Robot ran over our child, say angry parents

Technically Incorrect: At the Stanford Shopping Center, a friendly security robot is allegedly not so friendly.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


The alleged miscreant.

ABC 7 News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Honestly, who'd be a robot these days?

Humans are asking robots to do more and more things, but how on earth are robots supposed to understand all the little quirks that humans enjoy?

And how on earth are robots supposed to understand and avoid little humans?

Wait, aren't they programmed to do that?

At the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, they have a security robot. Paul Blart and his Segway presumably represented too much cost.

Still, this robot may not be the perfect replacement.

As ABC 7 News reports, the robot is 5 feet tall and weigh some 300 pounds. It's being accused of running over 16-month-old Harwin Cheng last Thursday.

"The robot hit my son's head and he fell down facing down on the floor and the robot did not stop and it kept moving forward," Harwin's mom, Tiffany Teng, told ABC.

She claims that the robot ran over Harwin's foot, grazing it. Worse, she says that mall security told her another child had been recently hurt by the robot.

A spokeswoman for the Stanford Shopping Center, which is owned by Simon Malls, told me: "The safety of our shoppers is always our highest priority. We are investigating this incident thoroughly, and the K5 units have been docked until the investigation is complete."

The robot, named K5, is made by a company called Knightscope. His job is to warn customers of suspicious behavior. He began his patrols last year, when children seemed to enjoy having him around. At the time, it was said to have four HD cameras for a 360-degree view and a thermal camera that detects when people are in its vicinity.

It would seem strange, then, that it wouldn't detect a child.

The warning is clear for parents. If you see your kid anywhere near a robot, drag him away.

Those robots might be mere machines, but they could be as unpredictable as humans.