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Security Robot's Firing Creates Questions About Tech In Public Spaces

The recent sacking of a Knightscope security robot has raised questions about the use of technology in public spaces.

Knightscope Security Robot

A San Francisco-area animal shelter had used the robot to help decrease car break-ins and crime in the area. While the robot's presence did lead to a decline in criminal activity, it also led to the homeless population feeling victimized, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The machine works by rolling around and taking frequent photos before sending them back to human security guards, but this practice reportedly made many homeless people in the area believe it was taking photos of them.

This is not the first incident in which the use of robots has come under scrutiny. San Francisco city officials banned robots on public sidewalks earlier this month while some were being tested for food delivery services. The latest incident has raised even more eyebrows after rumors began to swirl that the robots were being used to clear the homeless population from the area around the shelter.

San Francisco's homeless population has grown substantially in the last decade in part because of the tech boom, which has left housing unaffordable for many. It is now estimated that 7,500 people live on the streets, the WSJ reports.

City officials have since banned the use of robots on sidewalks and in parking lots around the area, pending a permit approval process.