Was This the First Robot Ever Arrested?

By Matt Novak on at

On August 18, 1982 the Beverly Hills Police Department took a rather unusual individual into custody: a robot called DC-2. The crime? Illegally distributing business cards and generally causing a commotion on North Beverly Drive, California. It was probably the first time a robot had ever been arrested.

When BHPD approached DC-2, the person operating it via remote control refused to identify himself to police. Officers searched the immediate area, but whoever was behind the thing was nowhere to be found. The bot's mysterious operator wasn't afraid of a little joking around though, despite the fact that the police were growing increasingly impatient with the robo-perp.

"It's not the weirdest thing we run into over there," tow truck driver Tom John told the local newspaper at the time. "It's just typical Beverly Hills."

Turns out it wasn't a lone man operating DC-2, but two teenage boys. Their father, Gene Beley, owned the company that manufactured the robot, the Android Amusement Corporation.

Shawn and Scott Beley (15 and 17-years old respectively) had apparently taken DC-2 out for a little joy ride without their father's permission. However, it wasn't clear why the boys would bother using the robot to hand out business cards if their dad truly had no idea what they were up to. One imagines you could find something a lot more fun to do with a robot than promote your father's company.

The police considered citing Beley for failing to obtain a permit for advertising on the sidewalk, but no charges were filed and the robot was ultimately returned.

"He's glad to be home," Beley told the AP after DC-2 had been sent back. "We sort of felt like a member of the family was in jail."

Photo: August 18, 1982 Associated Press