Harwin Cheng does not welcome our new robot overlords. The 16-month-old boy was allegedly knocked down and run over by a Knightscope K5 security robot at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Shopping Center.
The K5 security robot stands five-feet-tall and weighs 300 pounds. Harwin didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but the robot ran over his right foot, causing some swelling, and left a scrape on his leg.
“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,” said Harwin’s mother, Tiffany, in an ABC7 News report. “He was crying like crazy and he never cries. He seldom cries.”
The Stanford Shopping Center started using the K5 security robot in 2015 to alert authorities of abnormal noises, sudden environmental changes, and known criminals. The autonomous robot has a video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder, radar, air quality sensors, and a microphone.
Harwin’s parents said they were told by a security guard that the K5 security robot hurt another child just days earlier.
“Maybe they have to work out the sensors more,” said shopper Ankur Sharma. “Maybe it stopped detecting or it could be buggy or something.”
Update: July 14, 10:50 AM ET: Knightscope issued the following statement about this incident:
Incident on July 7, 2016: A K5 Autonomous Data Machine (Machine Identification Number 13) was patrolling at a local shopping center when, at approximately 2:39pm PDT, a child left the vicinity of his guardians and began running towards the machine. The machine veered to the left to avoid the child, but the child ran backwards directly into the front quarter of the machine, at which point the machine stopped and the child fell on the ground. The machine’s sensors registered no vibration alert and the machine motors did not fault as they would when encountering an obstacle. Once the guardians retrieved the child and the path was clear, the machine resumed patrolling. The entire incident lasted a few seconds and a scrape on the child’s leg and a bruise with minor swelling were reported.
Track Record: K5 Autonomous Data Machines have driven over 25,000 miles and have been in operation for over 35,000 hours typically traveling at approximately 1 mph without any reported incidents. There have been thousands of encounters with adults, children and both large and small pets documented daily on social media that have also taken place without any reported incidents. Each K5 hosts nearly 30 sensors, including a multitude of laser ranging devices, sonar sensors and a robust software stack, allowing machines the capability to sense the surrounding environment from less than an inch away to over 300 feet.
Knightscope has reached out to the family on numerous occasions without reply. The Company is, therefore, publicly extending a formal apology for the freakish accident, and is extending an invitation to the family to meet at Knightscope’s Headquarters in Mountain View to learn more about the technology. The meeting would also allow the family to speak directly to the team and convey their experience since they have indicated their primary concern and motivator is to prevent another incident from occurring. The entire Knightscope team also wishes to respectfully apologize in person and learn from this incident.
The commercialization of autonomous technology has been under development by many companies for some time now. And similar to those other companies with emerging technologies, Knightscope is committed to continuous improvement, and has been for over three years. The Company stands by its stated mission to serve the community in the interest of public safety and will do so for decades to come.
“Our first thoughts are for the family and we are thankful there were no serious injuries,” said William Santana Li, chairman and chief executive officer, Knightscope, Inc. “Our primary mission is to serve the public’s overall safety, and we take any circumstance that would compromise that mission very seriously.”