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Parents Upset After Their Boy Was 'Knocked Down and Run Over' By A Security Robot (abc7news.com) 255

An anonymous reader writes from a report via KGO-TV: PSA: Beware of dangerous security robots at the Stanford Shopping Center! After a young boy was "knocked down and run over" by one of the Stanford Shopping Center security robots, the boy's parents want to help prevent others from getting hurt. KGO-TV reports: "They said the machine is dangerous and fear another child will get hurt. Stanford Shopping Center's security robot stands 5' tall and weighs 300 pounds. It amuses shoppers of all ages, but last Thursday, 16-month-old Harwin Cheng had a frightening collision with the robot. '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,' Harwin's mom Tiffany Teng said. Harwin's parents say the robot ran over his right foot, causing it to swell, but luckily the child didn't suffer any broken bones. Harwin also got a scrape on his leg from the incident." Teng said, "He was crying like crazy and he never cries. He seldom cries." They are concerned as to why the robot didn't detect Harwin. "Garage doors nowadays, we're just in a day in age where everything has some sort of a sensor," shopper Ashle Gerrard said. "Maybe they have to work out the sensors more. Maybe it stopped detecting or it could be buggy or something," shopper Ankur Sharma said. The parents said a security guard told them another child was hurt from the same robot just days before. They're hoping their story will help other parents be more careful the next time they're at the Stanford Shopping Center. The robots are designed by Knightscope and come equipped with self-navigation, infra-red cameras and microphones that can detect breaking glass to support security services.
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Parents Upset After Their Boy Was 'Knocked Down and Run Over' By A Security Robot

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @05:51PM (#52506863)

    I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

  • Why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why does a glass breaking sensor need to move? Why does it need to be 300 lbs.
    Such sensors are standard on home alarm systems and are small and cheap. Also they have pretty good range.
    Sounds like somebody just wanted to make a cheap thing into a very high markup item because "robot!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bjwest ( 14070 )
      My concern is why did these parents let their 16 month old child far enough away from them that it got run over by a 300 lb robot? Do they often let their toddler run unwatched (by them) in a mall full of strangers?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You obviously don't have a toddler, and should therefore just STFU. They are fast little monsters who don't obey orders.

        • Re:Why (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @06:21AM (#52508999) Homepage Journal

          That's why you leash them, silly billy!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bjwest ( 14070 )
          That is what strollers are for. You should not allow your 16 month old baby to run freely in a crowded mall, especially in todays world, and you most definitely don't allow them to run freely around a 300 pound robot not designed to be an entertainment device for children.
          • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

            by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @10:24AM (#52510233) Journal

            Spoken as somebody who is probably not a parent.
            No, should probably shouldn't let your child run amock, but allowing your kid to walk without being tethered isn't a bad thing, and normally the biggest concerns are keeping him/her away from the escalators or other major stationary hazards. That and making sure the kiddo doesn't run into people, but humans have their own collision avoidance that apparently works better than this robot.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by bjwest ( 14070 )

              No, should probably shouldn't let your child run amock, but allowing your kid to walk without being tethered isn't a bad thing, ...

              It was in this case. I think the only concern for a parent is to keep their child safe from all hazards. Would you blame the escalator company or mall if you're in an unfamiliar mall and your child fell down the escalator you didn't know was five feet from you? I'm sorry, but there is no excuse for a toddler getting hurt in a mall that takes full blame away from the parent/guardian who's care that child is currently in. By all means, let your child run free and explore - in areas that are safe to do so,

          • especially in todays world

            Explain this one to me? What is it about today's world that makes it more dangerous to a child? Robot overloads excepted of course.

  • Maybe it was running on the Tesla autopilot algorithm!

    I kid, I kid...
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:00PM (#52506899)

    It detected that he was Asian, so it didn't shoot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:02PM (#52506911)

    Eventually children will evolve a mechanism to prevent them being run over by wayward security robots, and the strong will survive.

    • and when this kid grows up, the same robot will take his job.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      This! I am trying to cancel speed limits as well. In only a few hundred generations we will have kids and elderly that are able just get out of the way of cars. The species would evolve much faster as the weaker ones would be eliminated.
      Speed limits are just slowing us down.

      (And if you don't believe in evolution, God will prevent those who are pure from harm.)

  • Why do I get the feeling a lawsuit isn't far behind this announcement? The parent's description of the child's horror and emotional turmoil seem ready made for a lawyer to grab up and sue Knightscope, the mall, and every business (with money) in earshot and eyesight of the event.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:10PM (#52506953) Homepage Journal
    In a world of autonomous machines, people and animals are squishy bugs. If this sounds extreme, consider how it is actually the case in the world of automobiles, and how previous to that the risk was horse carriages. We can make devices good at not running over people, but never perfect.
  • Not Kid Proof (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:11PM (#52506965)

    It seems the robot has a lidar sensor on the top and maybe another lidar or simple IR distance sensor midlevel about a 2.3ft above the ground. A little kid could walk beside it without the robot seeing the kid and the wide base could then easily run over something. Seems like it needs some low level bump sensors or maybe not run it in a crowded area.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Or, how about a plastic wedge shape to push stuff to the side, somewhat like choo-choo-train* cow-catchers. Then you don't need bump sensors, except maybe the tip.

      * That's an official technical term, trust me

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Or a low level buzz saw attachment. The robot could also say "Exterminate! Exterminate!" over a speaker system. That should encourage the parents to keep the kids away.
      • Buzz saw attachments are for the ones that upgrade humans. The Exterminate units make di with plungers and eggbeaters.

  • But apparently it can't detect breaking bones.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The phrase "knocked down and run over" should not be in quotes since it is simply describing what happened.
    Quotes are used to either
    - distance the author from a statement--meaning that the author does not agree with or holds suspicion over the validity of the statement
    - actually quote what a person said (which in some cases overlaps with the reasoning of the first item)

    In this article neither is the case.

    • The robot most certainly did not "run over" the kid.
      It only kept bumping into it when then child was on the ground.
      So yes: quotes are fine.

      Quotes are used to either
      - or for figurative speaking were everyone except you agrees: it was "like" it but not "the same" as it.

      As in the phrase we talk about: run over mean - the robot is literally moving over the target and burry it underneath it. Which clearly did not happen in this case.

    • If it's a statement, then someone must have said it.

  • If you can't trust this thing to detect that it's attempting to run over something like a child, can you trust it to accurately detect and report that a crime is in progress?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      If you can't trust this thing to detect that it's attempting to run over something like a child, can you trust it to accurately detect and report that a crime is in progress?

      Honestly it sounds like a slightly mobile burglar alarm that can detect motion (infrared) and glass breaking (microphones), my guess is it doesn't do anything worth anything in the daytime except look cool. But hey, too cool not to show off right?

  • I call bullshit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:39PM (#52507125)
    "He was crying like crazy and he never cries."

    Really? A 16 month old child that never cries? I don't believe that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Any child psychologist would be very worried about a child that age who never cries. What horrors are the parents inflicting on him at home?
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        >Any child psychologist

        Disregarded for soft science bullshit that can almost never be reproduced.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        Any child psychologist would see the full quote and think, "Hmm, the father started by exaggerating a bit to make his kid look good, realized he wasn't being truthful and corrected himself to 'seldom cries'."

      • Guessing from the name, the family is of Chinese extraction. They tend to be better behaved.
    • I know plenty of little children that never cry.

      Treat them properly and they don't cry, why should they?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I know plenty of little children that never cry.

        Treat them properly and they don't cry, why should they?

        I call BS on this. Kids cry when they don't get what they want. They cry when they are getting tired. They cry when someone else gets what they want. They cry when they have too much food on their plate. They cry when they don't have enough on their plate. They cry when they get hurt. They cry when they are startled. They cry when they have a bad experience. They cry when they hurt themselves.

        Kids are going to cry no matter how "perfect" of a parent you are, even if you are spoiling them by bending

    • Really? A 16 month old child that never cries? I don't believe that.

      Some children just don't cry for attention. Ironically, I was one of them.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Mine rarely cried at that age, they are so use to falling over and bumping into things that it became second nature to get a small boo-boo.

      Now he's 3.5, when he cries, it's bloody murder.
    • Only the first of a couple of questions that makes this smell like lawsuit bait.

      - 16 month old that "never cries"...ma'am, then you may want to have your child tested for autism.
      - 16 month left to 'wander' while 300+ lb autonomous machine is trundling by
      - I listened to an interview with the mom, she wasn't even sure which foot was hurt. We had 4 kids and my wife could categorize with astonishing certainty and accuracy what parts of them were hurt, and what parts they THOUGHT were hurt but really weren't.

  • Maybe the robot is related Bender Bending Rodríguez.
  • Small children can sometimes fall out of an adult's peripheral vision, if they are concentrating on what is further ahead of them rather than on what happens to be on or near ground-level of otherwise familiar territory. This has actually happened to me, and I stopped immediately, as I realized I had not seen whatever it was that I would have otherwise walked right on top of. Fortunately for me, the child was not seriously hurt, but was largely startled by what had happened, and the parents were thankfully not vindictive. Of course, this robot also stayed on its course, which may have led to injuries being more serious than if it had stopped immediately upon contact, as I did.

  • young boy was "knocked down and run over" by one of the Stanford Shopping Center security robots

    let that be a lesson to the rest of you, the Stanford Shopping Center is bot territory! ;)

    • According to them, the robot tried evasive action, when the kid changed direction and ran directly into the robot. At which point the robot halted.
      • by ttsai ( 135075 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @01:03AM (#52508329)

        The mom said, "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." This is in direct contrast to what the robot company said, so one of the accounts is not accurate.

        The robot company also said, "The machine veered to the left to avoid the child, but the child ran backwards directly into the front quarter of the machine, at which point the machine stopped and the child fell on the ground." To make a statement about the orientation of the boy requires video (or at least some other electronic detection). Furthermore, the company said, "The machine’s sensors registered no vibration alert and the machine motors did not fault as they would when encountering an obstacle." So, there is some form of an electronic record of what the robot sensed.

        Did the parents or any other human claim to have seen the moment of impact? I don't read any direct claim of an eyewitness account.

  • We have no evidence here that the bot is more likely to step on somebody's foot than say Paul Blart.

  • than a typical obese American?

    Stanford Shopping Center's security robot stands 5' tall and weighs 300 pounds. . . . '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,'"

    One takes their own life in their hands any time they go out in public nowadays, especially when they go stores. Get that much mass moving and momentum takes hold.
  • The subject was warned:

    Please stand aside. You have twenty seconds to comply.

    The subject did not comply. After several warnings with increasing level of severity:

    Four... three... two... one... I am now authorized to use physical force!

    And there you go.

  • A security guard told them another child was hurt from the same robot just days before.

    The nice point here is that we can rely on this helpful witness, which job's is threatened by the robot: he will not cover the mess.

  • IIRC there is little bone to break in a 16 month old child: most of the skeleton is still cartilage, which can bent a lot without breaking.
  • One of Knightscope's corporate rivals in robotic security development, Omni Consumer Products, announced that it has had tremendous success with it's own product designed to assist in inner city law enforcement. In additional news, Omni Consumer Products thanked board member Mr. Kinney on his lifelong dedication to the company, and wished him a happy retirement.
  • We going to sue

    Stanford Shopping Center
    Knightscope
    who ever made the Sensors
    and any independent contractors

  • I posted this story FOUR HOURS before you did, and by the way why is mine marked in red as 'SPAM'??!?

    Come correct, Slashdot.
  • Now that it's tasted human blood, it will have to be put down. It's the only way to be sure.

  • I wonder if it can tell the difference between breaking glass and someone playing a recording of breaking glass. Does griefing a robot count as a crime?
  • Pretty insensitive posts modded up here.
    A child was crushed and iirc killed by a revolving door on roppongi hills in tokyo when it opened some years ago because sensors were not low enough to detect the child. It should be required reading.

  • And what was the parent doing that wasn't making sure the kid wasn't getting run over?

    Granted, the robot should have been designed to take little kid craziness into account, but I'm betting the direct cause of the incident was said craziness.

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