Food delivery robots are defending themselves with video footage

These little robots help various retailers (here 7-Eleven) to deliver orders in Los Angeles. — AFP Relaxnews

Two thieves operating in Los Angeles recently found out that autonomous delivery robots aren’t defenceless machines after attempting to steal one such bot from the city streets. After being arrested, they were confronted with a video of the incident, filmed in its entirety by the robot in question.

Footage captured by a Los Angeles food delivery robot was used by police to arrest two men after a failed attempt to steal the bot while it was operating in a city street earlier this summer, according to 404 Media. Two people tried to load the little robot into a truck in broad daylight. But not only did the robot manage to escape on its own, it also filmed the whole scene. The thieves were thus identified by the police and convicted for their offence.

After the trial, Ali Kashani, founder and CEO of Serve Robotics, shared the video on social media, commenting: “Some genius once tried to steal one of our robots... It didn’t end well (for them).”

This appears to be the first time that a robot of this type has been the object of an attempted theft. But this story also raises the question of privacy, as these robots are equipped with cameras that film their entire environment wherever they go.

Serve Robotics works with brands such as Uber Eats and 7-Eleven for so-called last-mile deliveries in California. The company states that its robots are in no way used as surveillance tools.

However, Serve Robotics will sometimes collaborate with the police and the justice system if specifically requested to do so by the authorities. At least, that's what 404 Media reports today, with supporting emails.

The only unknown factor is that Serve Robotics does not specify for how long the daily recordings made by its robots are retained.

This case could open up a wider public debate on the violation of privacy by these autonomous robots, which are increasingly used to deliver goods in the United States, whether in cities, on campuses or in companies. – AFP Relaxnews

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