A food delivery robot in Los Angeles captured footage that led to the arrest and conviction of two individuals who attempted to steal it. Serve Robotics, which partners with Uber Eats for last-mile deliveries, shared videos of the incident with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The company had previously established communication with the LAPD to address any potential issues. This development comes at a time when concerns around the privacy and use of robot-recorded footage are on the rise.
Serve Robotics CEO Ali Kashani proudly announced the convictions on social media, highlighting that attempting to steal their robots has serious consequences. However, Kashani also published a blog post emphasizing the company’s commitment to balancing law enforcement involvement with maintaining public trust and privacy. The company’s principles include not using robots for surveillance purposes and not unnecessarily burdening public resources in minor cases of robot vandalism. The robot involved in the theft attempt was unharmed and the company promptly handed over the relevant footage before deleting it.
It remains unclear how long Serve retains its robots’ recordings in regular circumstances, and the company’s vagueness regarding the potential use of the videos raises concerns. Serve’s head of communications stated that the company regularly deletes camera feed unless required to do otherwise and complies with subpoena requests. This incident reinforces the growing public wariness about the use of technology like delivery robots and raises questions about the extent of their recordings and the ultimate destination of the footage.