In an unnamed city a few years in the future (from the film's release date, 1984), John Ramsey works as a cop in a special division of the police department called the Runaway Squad. In this future society, people have become dependent on robots to do many daily tasks for them. Ramsey's work involves responding to calls where robots have gone out of control. Ramsey is assigned a new partner, Karen Thompson, who has just transferred into the Runaway Squad. On their first call, they are taken by helicopter to a farm outside the city where an agricultural robot has been toppling crops.
The two cops are able to find and deactivate the robot; Karen gets a facefull of dirt for her trouble. While in the chopper heading to the scene, Ramsey confides in Karen that he's afraid of heights. The two next respond to a call from a construction site. A "stacker" droid is dropping heavy bags of material from many stories up. Ramsey refuses to take the job himself due to his acrophobia. Karen takes the job and is able to easily deactivate the droid..