It was one small step for security technology, but one giant leap in the wrong direction for robotkind.
A security robot in Washington — lovingly named Steve — plunged down four steps into a fountain Monday.
Photos show the sad, waterlogged robot cop partially submerged in defeat. No foul play was involved; Steve simply rolled down a dark path on his own.
Steve had just started patrolling the Washington Harbour, a riverside complex in Georgetown with restaurants and offices. The Washington Harbour and its real estate developer, MRP Realty, introduced the robot on Facebook on July 12.
The post touts Steve’s “extensive catalogue of security capabilities,” which apparently does not include any underwater crime-fighting.
Steve was still getting used to the streets he was programmed to protect. He was “mapping out the grounds,” theoretically to prevent this kind of accident.
“This initial phase is our opportunity to implement, vet, and remediate any bugs in the system to help advance both the programming and security features in a busy mixed-use center such as The Washington Harbour,” an MRP representative wrote in a statement to CNN. “These incidents show us where improvements are needed, which may then be deployed to contribute to the ongoing security of our tenants, residents, and visitors.”
Even though Steve had only been rolling around for a few days, he already made some new friends. “He looked so happy and healthy,” one mourner recalled on Twitter.
But others who work near Steve weren’t too sad to see what happened. One not so fondly reflected on Steve being “very creepy.”
And for some, Steve’s unfortunate swim was a victory for humans fighting against the robot uprising.
A company called Knightscope produces K5 Autonomous Data Machines such as Steve. According to the company website, the ADMs use multiple sensors to detect their location and “carefully navigate” the right path. And while Steve was “ruggedized and protected against vandalism,” it doesn’t appear those same protections prevent any water damage.
It isn’t the first time a security robot has run into trouble. In April, a drunken man in California tipped over a 300-pound K5. Last summer, another bot in California knocked over a toddler.
Knightscope confirmed that Steve survived his unprecedented dip in the fountain and is in “critical condition.” While he’s on life support in Silicon Valley, another K5 unit has taken his place. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident — except Steve.