When Robot Face-Plants In Fountain, Onlookers Show Humanity — By Gloating : The Two-Way The Knightscope K5 is a state-of-the-art machine, a patrol bot built to rove complexes in search of "unusual activity." But on Monday, it appeared to have a little trouble with stairs.
NPR logo

When Robot Face-Plants In Fountain, Onlookers Show Humanity — By Gloating

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/537905142/537948598" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
When Robot Face-Plants In Fountain, Onlookers Show Humanity — By Gloating

When Robot Face-Plants In Fountain, Onlookers Show Humanity — By Gloating

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/537905142/537948598" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You have to cut Steve the robot a little slack. Steve had just started a new job at an office complex here in D.C. called Washington Harbor. Steve's a security robot. Its 5-foot-tall, white, bullet-shaped body has all sorts of sensors - thermal imaging, a video camera, radar and other stuff.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Yesterday was Steve's first day of full autonomy, so you have to allow for - well, a little learning curve.

KRISTIAN DE MEO: It's faced its first challenge in the form of a small fountain.

SIEGEL: A water fountain - he plunged right into it. Kristian De Meo runs marketing for MRP Realty, which manages Washington Harbor. And she says Steve - that's spelled STEV stands for...

DE MEO: Security technology enhancement vehicle.

CORNISH: Steve's accidental swim was in a public courtyard, so of course people took photos of a sad robot lying in a fountain and tweeted them immediately along with jokes.

SIEGEL: One said, must have been a paranoid android.

CORNISH: Another said, we were promised flying cars. Instead we got suicidal robots.

DE MEO: My favorite one is, just put in a box of dry rice, and let it sit overnight (laughter).

SIEGEL: Knightscope, the company that built Steve, says the incident is under investigation. In a statement, the company noted that no people were harmed or involved in any way. A new robot will be delivered this week.

CORNISH: And new Steve, bring a raincoat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUFJAN STEVENS SONG, "DEAR MR. SUPERCOMPUTER")

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.