Kiwibots on Kampus

The Ethical Concerns of Autonomous Vehicles in Black Spaces


  • Teanna Barrett Howard University


As of Spring 2022, Howard University deployed autonomous food-delivery vechicles in partnership with Kiwibots. For many members of the Howard community, they were not made aware of the partnerships until the Kiwibots began traveling around the campus. The sudden appearance of the technology breeded skepticism and general interest in understanding the technology. In an attempt to provide information to the Howard community, some foundational knowledge about the Kiwibots and the university's partnership is detailed. Furthermore, based on the foundational information about Kiwibots, this article raises several ethical concerns about the Kiwibots and how it relates to larger trends in technological deployment in Black communties and spaces. As a first step, explanations about how the Kiwibot systems process image data and other personally identifiable information (PII) need to be more transparently shared. A deeper interrogation of university corporate partnerships and especially partnerships with minority-institutions is ultimately necessary for addressing the ethical concerns related to the technology.