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Why The Mall Robocop Accused Of Running Over A Toddler Might Be Innocent


Earlier this month, a security robot know as “Number 13” allegedly ran over 16-month-old Harwin Cheng’s foot in a Palo Alto mall. His mother Tiffany told local news station KGO that 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.” Although she provided pictures of his swollen and scraped foot, a statement from the robo-rent-a-cop’s manufacturer Knightscope suggests that there are 2 sides to every story — even if one side is the robot overlord’s.

According to Knightscope’s investigation, the kid kind of fought the robot law and lost. Harwin ran away from his parents, and Number 13 initially veered to the left to avoid the child. Like most unpredictable toddlers, he ran back into the robocop (perhaps for a hug) and fell, at which point it’s sensors no longer recognized his tiny presence  — otherwise it would’ve stopped. The company reported that their machines have driven over 25,000 miles and been in operation for over 35,000 hours without incident, but the shopping center has still banned all bots until further notice. Hopefully Number 13 doesn’t have a family.

The company extended a public apology to the Cheng family, who have not responded to numerous private attempts to reach out. They also invited the parents to the headquarters (where Number 13 was conceived) to figure out what the hell happened to no avail. The statement closed saying, “Our primary mission is to serve the public’s overall safety, and we take any circumstance that would compromise that mission very seriously.” Maybe Detroit is hiring.

[H/T] Vocative