Security Robot Takes Out Toddler at Shopping Centre

By George Dvorsky on at

A 130-kilo security robot at at a shopping centre in the US knocked down and ran over a 16-month-old boy. The parents of the injured boy are understandably pissed, claiming the autonomous machine is dangerous.

“The robot hit my son’s head and he fell down facing down on the floor and the robot did not stop and it kept moving forward,” noted the boy’s mother, Tiffany Teng, in an ABC7 News report. “He was crying like crazy and he never cries. He seldom cries.”

The toddler, named Harwin, was allegedly assaulted by the shopping security robot at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. The bot stands 1.5 metres tall and weighs 300 pounds (136kg). Harwin didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but the robot ran over his right foot causing it to swell. He also got a nasty scrape on his leg from the incident. The parents said the machine is dangerous, and they’re hoping to get the word out to prevent others from getting hurt.

The robot is developed by Knightscope, a Silicon Valley startup located in Mountain View (the robot happens to bear the name of its manufacturer). The current version, the K5 beta prototype, is a fully autonomous robot that’s used to deter and detect crime. To that end, it’s equipped with a battery of instruments, including a video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder, radar, air quality sensors, and a microphone.

When the Knightscope K5 senses trouble, it alerts local authorities, though it didn’t seem particularly concerned when it ploughed into the toddler earlier this week. Little is known about the incident, but the robot’s sensors didn’t seem to detect Harwin — and that’s obviously a problem. This Knightscope K5 unit, which began its duties at the mall last year, will undoubtedly come into contact with other pint-sized shoppers.

Gizmodo reached out to Knightscope for comment, but have yet to receive a response. We’ll update this post if we hear back. [ABC7 News]