Tragedy as D.C. Security Robot Goes For an Afternoon Swim, Drowns

Apparently distraught over the news that the thirteenth Doctor Who is a woman, a Washington, D.C. security Dalek threw itself into fountain of the building it was patrolling and and drowned. Seriously, that’s a Dalek. If you’ve never watched Doctor Who, go and Google the Daleks, look at that robot in the fountain and tell me that the Knightscope K5 isn’t a Dalek. At least the fact that it couldn’t get out of the fountain means Daleks still haven’t mastered stairs.

I can understand how a security robot might be appealing. Even a security camera that isn’t plugged in can reduce incidents of crime. I don’t get the appeal of making your security robot look like a science fiction villain, though. Maybe it makes people apprehensive about committing a crime, but it probably just makes British children hide behind the couch, unlike this adorable brave and adorable young lady. 

The question now is what went wrong with this robot. A lot of the speculation now is positing robot suicide. There’s actually a long history of depressed and suicidal robots in science fiction, specifically comedy sci-fi. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had Marvin, the Paranoid Android, played brilliantly in the film version by Alan Rickman. Rick and Morty’s Butter passing robot’s existential crisis at learning its purpose is the stuff of memes, and when Fry met Bender in Futurama, it was inside a suicide booth. Personally, I think he heard human/robot marriage might be legal in his lifetime and just wanted to save himself from the eventual nagging.

This incident inspired me to look at what this security robot actually does and boy was I underwhelmed. The K5 is really lacking compared to a real Dalek. It doesn’t have either the laser gun arm or the toilet plunger arm that somehow kills you, instead it’s basically just a GoPro on a Roomba. The makers of the robot wanted to stop incidents like Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon bombing, and decided a roving camera with a built-in alarm would somehow do that. I think it would stand a better chance against a gunman if they at least gave it a toilet plunger. When asked for comment, the K5 responded “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE THE DOCTOR!” which is not a great sign for coming human/robot war.

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