A recent video of a food delivery robot driving through an active crime scene and perplexing onlooking LAPD police officers has gone viral.
The robot, named Connie, was making its way across the street when it encountered the yellow tape of a crime scene investigation of an active shooting that was later determined to be a hoax.
A TV cameraman lifted the tape for Connie, who continued across the intersection and passed by confused LAPD officers at the scene.
According to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), LAPD officers were responding to an active shooter call at Hollywood High School, which thankfully was only a hoax.
“There were unfounded reports of gunshots fired on campus at Hollywood High School today. All students and staff are safe, and school will resume as normal,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho tweeted.
The video of the robot was posted on the police transparency Twitter account called Film the Police L.A., and quickly went viral, garnering over 20,000 likes.
It was later determined that Connie belongs to Serve Robotics — a company contracted by Uber Eats.
The company claims on their website to be the first to use level 4 autonomous vehicles to make deliveries, and says they have completed thousands of deliveries.
“Our standard operating procedure is to reroute and not cross barrier tapes,” a Serve Robotics spokesman told Motherboard in an email. “However, in this instance, the robot supervisor believed they were being waved through. We’re taking steps to ensure our operating procedures are followed in the future.”
In the video, bystanders can be heard discussing whether the robot carried a bomb.
“What if there’s a bomb?” a passerby asked.
“That’s going to be the easiest way to bomb people, is the robot,” someone responded. “Here’s a delivery of TNT for you guys.”
Such an idea is not outlandish. Dallas police used this same tactic in 2016 to stop a mass shooter. In the incident, police strapped explosives to a bomb disposal robot and detonated it after driving it directly at the suspected mass shooter, killing him.
There are several companies in L.A. that use remotely-piloted robots (basically coolers on wheels) to deliver food.
Delivery drivers for Santa Monica-based company Coco, for example, use an Xbox controller and a series of cameras to maneuver the robot.
Serve Robotics, on the other hand, uses robots that have a greater degree of autonomy. The robots are not always safe on the road. In 2021, a police report was filed after a man angrily picked up one of the robots and threw it on the ground, while kicking and yelling at it.