Security robot that deterred homeless encampments in the Mission gets rebuke from the city

By Alisha Green : bizjournals – excerpt

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This interloper patrols the empty parking garage across from the Warriors site. Photo by zrants.

San Francisco residents continue to rage against the machines.

While the city’s board of supervisors moves toward finalizing limits on robots that roam the sidewalks to deliver food and goods, it must also find a way to handle security robots that patrol public sidewalks.

The S.F. SPCA in the Mission started using a security robot about a month ago in its parking lot and on the sidewalks around its campus, which takes up a whole city block at Florida St. and 16th St. Last week, the city ordered the SPCA to keep its robot off the sidewalks or face a penalty of up to $1,000 per day for operating in the public right-of-way without a permit.

The security robot is just the latest in a growing list of uses for robots around the city, from rental agents to food couriers. The robot surge could draw local government into more questions about its role in regulating the machines, especially if they operate in the public right-of-way…

Having humans replace the robot’s 24/7 shift would be “cost prohibitive,” though, Scarlett said. The robot costs about $6 per hour to rent, she said. The minimum wage in San Francisco is $14 per hour…(more)

The real story here is that some people are setting up a battle between homeless humans and homeless pets by using robots to protect the pets from the humans. Homeless pets are in and homeless humans are out? Literally? The irony is that many pets live in the encampments with the homeless humans? Who chooses which pets get star treatment and are allowed in the fenced off dog run guarded by the robots? Is there a homeless pet housing lottery?

The other side of the story is that robots are taking over human jobs because they can always compete on the price level, in this case, by $8 dollars an hour. What happens to the $20 an hour jobs? Do robots charge $14 an hour for those?

Robots don’t pay rent or eat or shop. How this plays into our future job market is the big unknown and possibly explains the on-going city strike in Oakland and a general new interest in unions organizing. It is good that the city officials are starting to have conversations about the future of jobs now. We can’t afford to wait.

RELATED:
Bay Area real estate players react to the idea of robot rental agents

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