Robot cop found floating facedown in fountain

Commentary: One of the famed Knightscope security robots appears to have had a turn. In the wrong direction.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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

"We have a new sheriff in town."

That's how MRP Realty announced the arrival of its new robot security cop on Facebook last Wednesday. 

The robot cop, a model known as the K5, was to patrol the Washington Harbor complex in DC. On Monday, however, it devolved into what some might describe as DC comic.

For there was the robot floating facedown in a public fountain, as if the bad guys had shot it from behind. 

Bilal Farooqui, who works in the complex, tweeted an image of this untimely demise. He added this poetic thought: "Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself. We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots."

Or did someone shoot the sheriff? 

Stacy Dean Stephens, VP of marketing and sales at Knightscope, the robot's makers, told me that this was "an isolated incident" and is being investigated. 

"No people were harmed or involved in any way," he said. A new K5 is being dispatched to DC. 

MRP Realty told me it is in a pilot program and currently in the phase of rooting out bugs. "These incidents show us where improvements are needed, which may then be deployed to contribute to the ongoing security of our tenants and residents," a spokesman said.

Asked what had happened, the MRP spokesman told me: "We're digging in to find out."

This isn't, though, the first incident in which K5 robots have had brushes with suspicious circumstances. 

In April, a man allegedly assaulted one in California parking lot. Last year, angry parents accused it of running over their child in a California shopping mall.

One day, they will direct traffic, arrest villains and even chase us down when we're going 41 mph in a 40-zone. 

Until then, there will be mysteries. There will be tragedies, too.

Updated 5.16pm: adds comment from Knightscope.

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