The Huntingdon Park police near Los Angeles has rolled out several robot police in public spaces around the city. However, reports and testimonies reveal that these autonomous police robots may not serve any purpose at all. The inefficiency of the supposed virtual police that secure the parks in Los Angeles (instead of actual human police officers) was highlighted when the Knightscope police robot ignored a distressed woman.
A woman in a park near Los Angeles attempted to summon the futuristic police robot when a fight broke out in the area. Instead of responding to the distress call of the woman, the K5 model named “HP RoboCop,” ignored her report and told her to “step out of the way,” as earlier reported in NBC News. Witnesses of the event said that no help came from their attempt to summon the police through RoboCop, and only until they directly called 911 was then a police unit responded to the scene.
Police Robot calls manufacturer instead of PD
This incident has sparked people to question if the police robot serves any purpose aside from its cosmetic value. The robot supposedly has a button that, when pressed, would alert the police force to the area where the specific robot is stationed. However, it reveals that instead of directing the distress call made by pressing the said button to the police department, the message was instead sent directly to the manufacturer of the robot police, Knightscope.
It was revealed that while the RoboCops are rolled out to patrol public places with a (very) legible inscription that reads “POLICE,” the police robot does not have any capability to summon actual human police officers. Huntingdon Park police chief Cosme Lozano admitted that there is still no connection between the robotic police and the police department; that’s why they are still not introducing the function to the public yet.
The police chief said that instead, the calls made by people through the HP RoboCop would continue to be sent to Knightscope until the police department develops protocols for handling calls made through the police bot. Because of this statement, many questioned why they have deployed the police robots live if they are not yet working.
“What’s the point of a police robot if you can’t use it to call the police?” asked one Twitter user. Another said: “Why on Earth would you implement an unadvertised feature in a live deployment? Why [didn’t] the button do anything at all? Why is this currently unused feature accessible if it’s not ready yet? So many questions…”
In a sarcastic manner, another Twitter user implied that by pressing the wrong button, the police robot would roll off to the nearest water fountain, as he showed a picture of the HP RoboCop swimming in an unknown fountain. “At least she didn’t accidentally push the button that causes the robot to drive into the nearest water fountain,” he posted.
Until now, the people are still confused about what the purpose of the robot is, especially that there is an expectation that it has the capability to call police officers in times of trouble directly. It still remains a question of why the police department deployed the robots without thorough public information regarding how to use it and what its purpose should be.