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A security robot called Steve rolled into a pool and drowned

The robot apocalypse is clearly a ways off if news out of Washington, D.C., this week is anything to go by. A security robot working at the Washington Harbour complex in Georgetown met a nasty end when it toppled into a water feature and promptly drowned.

Steve, as this particular Knightscope K5 robot is affectionately known, had only been patrolling his patch since last week but, for reasons currently unknown, ended up taking an unexpected dip in the water, rendering itself utterly useless.

Images posted on social media showed a rather sorry sight, with Steve face down in the fountain, floating in a very un-robot-like way as staff attempted to lift the lifeless bot from its watery grave.

Digital Trends’ Kyle Wiggers, who recently met one of Knightscope’s 6-foot, 400-pound K5 robots, described it as “something like a mix between a Dalek from Doctor Who and Eve from Wall-E.” Designed to work alongside human security personnel rather than replace them, the wheel-based K5 comes packed with sensors and cameras designed to help it make sense of its surroundings while at the same time alerting its human counterparts if it spots any suspicious behavior or dodgy characters.

The operator of Washington Harbour was evidently stoked to have Steve keeping an eye on the complex, posting a message on Facebook last week about the “new sheriff in town.”

It added, “We’re super excited to announce our new test pilot security technology … This bot is making his debut at D.C. headquarters this week and has an extensive catalog of security capabilities. He’s currently mapping out the grounds here to be fully autonomous and ready to launch in the upcoming days.”

While Steve’s mapping technology obviously needs some tweaking, Knightscope chose to see the funny side of this week’s mishap.

It’s not the first time the K5 has unintentionally landed up in the news. Just a few months ago a man apparently assaulted the robot in a Silicon Valley parking lot. Despite being knocked to the ground, the K5 did what it was supposed to do and alerted cops of the assault. The alleged assailant was later arrested.

As for Steve, there’s no word about whether he’s going to be fixed, or indeed if  the folks at Washington Harbour will be asking for a replacement anytime soon, though if they do, we suggest they erect a barrier around the fountain beforehand. Either that or teach the K5 to recognize water.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
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