Concerns have been raised regarding the potential use of Uber Eats delivery robots as surveillance tools in criminal investigations. Serve Robotics, a company that contracts its delivery robots to Uber Eats, recently provided video footage to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to aid in a criminal investigation involving one of Serve’s own robots. The LAPD had subpoenaed Serve for video footage related to an attempted theft of the delivery bot. The footage was used by the police to identify two suspects involved in the incident.
The incident has sparked questions about the future use of these devices in criminal investigations. Serve’s delivery robots are equipped with constant recording capabilities, raising concerns about the extent of video retention by the company. Surveillance and privacy expert Chris Gilliard has expressed concerns that autonomous vehicles like Serve Robotics’ robots could potentially become “moving surveillance devices.”
The increasing reliance on surveillance-infused autonomous technology in various sectors, such as Tesla and Amazon Ring, has already raised similar concerns. The constant data collection and interactions with their surroundings make these autonomous products appealing to law enforcement agencies seeking efficient and cost-effective tools for surveillance.