Skip to main content
Community

The Robot Security Guard Patrolling SF Is Suddenly Unemployed

Written by Alex MullaneyPublished Dec. 28, 2022 • 7:30pm
Knightscope Autonomous Security Robot at PG&E's Mission District property. | Alex Mullaney/The Standard

English

The noisy security robot patrolling the sidewalks around a Pacific Gas & Electric property in San Francisco is officially out of work.

The Knightscope autonomous robot reportedly began providing security services at utility company’s yard at 19th and Folsom streets in the Mission District earlier in December. The 5-foot-tall machine rolled around the property’s perimeter at a slow speed while emitting a loud whooshing sound—at a cost of $7 per hour, or less than half the $16.99 San Francisco minimum hourly wage for human workers.

Many residents and small business staff expressed displeasure with the robot.

“After some initial testing of the Knightscope unit and proactive discussions with the city on this matter, PG&E will not be continuing with plans to deploy the unit at our Folsom location,” company spokesperson Jason King said.

The Department of Public Works (DPW), which is responsible for authorizing sidewalk robots through its beleaguered Office of Emerging Technology, said no permit had been issued for the robot.

“The code is silent on these types of robots,” DPW spokesperson Beth Rubenstein said. “Mobile delivery robots are allowed, but the code says nothing about this type of machine.”

DPW’s Office of Emerging Technology was designed to handle new tech products that companies set loose on city streets by conducting research, holding stakeholder meetings and developing new regulations with lawmakers. Rubenstein did not answer whether the office was looking into the matter by press time.

It’s not the first episode of non-human security in San Francisco, either. Gap Inc., the homegrown conglomerate clothing retailer, sought permission from DPW last year to operate a robot security guard at its headquarters on the Embarcadero.

The Office of Emerging Technology directed Gap to file a permit, which was later denied by another bureau in the department for being improper.

David Pierce, whose carpentry shop is across the street from the PG&E yard, said the sound emitted by the robot was loud and could be more pleasing.

“We love change,” Pierce said. “And I’m down for street robots, but we should do it in a compassionate way.”

English

Alex Mullaney can be reached at [email protected]


Maria Laura Limpias Chavez, left, of Bolivia, Sahara Loffsner, of Colombia, and fellow new American citizens, take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda in July 2021. | Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Foreign Immigration to the Bay Area on the Rise for First Time in Five Years


Gay Man Assaulted and Hospitalized After Leaving This SF Bar

Gay Man Assaulted and Hospitalized After Leaving This SF Bar


Turkey’s Earthquake a Reminder of the Importance of Emergency Preparedness

Turkey’s Earthquake a Reminder of the Importance of Emergency Preparedness


Camouflage-Clad Nonprofit Workers Perturb Mid-Market Residents

Camouflage-Clad Nonprofit Workers Perturb Mid-Market Residents


Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes? This Lawmaker Wants To See Them in California

Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes? This Lawmaker Wants To See Them in California


Stay on top of what’s happening in your city

SF’s most important stories, delivered straight to your inbox



By clicking Subscribe you confirm you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy