Suicidal security robot meets watery end while drones boost crop circles
A security robot in Washington DC suffered a watery demise after rolling into a fountain and ‘drowning’ by an office building at the Georgetown Waterfront in Washington (DC) Harbour. The stricken robot, made by Knightscope, was spotted by passers-by whose photos of the aftermath quickly went viral on social media. For some, the incident seemed to sum up the state of 21st century technology. “We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots,” wrote one worker from the building on Twitter. “Steps are our best defence against the Robopocalypse,” commented Peter Singer – author of Wired
for War, a book about military robotics.
It is not the first accident involving Knightscope’s patrolling robots, which are equipped with various instruments – including face-recognition systems, high-definition video capture, infrared and ultrasonic sensors. Last year, a 16-month-old toddler was run over by one of the autonomous devices in a Silicon Valley shopping centre. And earlier this year, a Californian man was arrested after attacking a Knightscope robot. The man, who was drunk at the time of the incident, later said he wanted to “test” the machine, according to Knightscope. BBC News, inews.co.uk, 18 July 2017.
DRONES BOOST CROP CIRCLES
A recent surge in crop circles is being caused by drone users who upload their aerial footage on social media, according to Wiltshire Police. So far this year the force had been alerted to 16 incidents, with a recent circle in Alton Barnes measuring 200 acres (sic) in diameter. However, the true number is thought to be far higher because many farmers do not come forward.
“Creating a crop circle is criminal damage and an offence,” said rural crime officer Marc Jackson. “Often immediately after a crop circle appears, people will arrive with a drone to photograph it. Individuals using a drone in the immediate time after a crop circle may be connected to the group who have created the circle. The footage is quickly circulated on social media to generate interest and on websites that charge for advertising space. It has also been known for individuals to pose as part of a charity or as the landowner at the site of crop circles and attempt to take ‘donations’ from people viewing it.” PC Jackson added that the damage results in a significant loss of revenue for farmers, who are also forced to deal with trespassers who later flock to view them.
Drone users are supposed to obtain permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to operate drones for commercial purposes. The CAA said that permission had been granted to 2,897 operators to use drone for commercial purposes, almost a six-fold increase from about 500 just two years ago. D. Telegraph, 13 July; Times, 14 July 2017.
ABOVE AND LEFT: The Georgetown Waterfront robot’s sad end quickly gave rise to a spontaneous memorial.