Security Guard, Yet Another Robot Application. I Feel Safer Already.

Silicon Valley. You owe The Daleks royalty fees.

Knightscope is a company that is testing a couple of robot sentries that are designed to provide human security guards with an additional set of “eyes and ears” remotely.

Forbes magazine wrote:

It was only a matter of time before the robots really dug in and started policing the populace. They are already delivering pizza and replacing fast-food cashiers so robots replacing security guards was a natural next step. Enter Silicon Valley based Knightscope, the maker of the 300 pound K5 security robot.

The robot was spotted patrolling the Uber inspection lot in San Francisco, but has been in use in other locations in California for some time now. The K5 is part Knightscope’s beta program for the security bots and is already showing positive results. The robot isn’t armed in the traditional sense, but instead is loaded with multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision.

The K5 also boasts a thermal camera, weather sensors, license-plate recognition system, microphones, a laser rangefinder, and person recognition capabilities. The five-foot tall egg-shaped patrol-bot is rented by customers at the cost of around seven dollars an hour. Companies rent two robots, so one can charge while the other patrols a geofenced area.

Stacy Stephens, Knightscope’s VP of marketing, told “For the cost of a single-shift security guard, you get a machine that will patrol for 24 hours a day 7 days a week.” This is based on average security guard wages of $25 to $35 dollars an hour. Knightscope has also inked deals with a couple large security companies.

Instagram users have also spotted the robots in use at Stanford Shopping Center, and have been tagging them on Instagram with the hashtag #securityrobot. Right now, the robot is a sense of amusement for passers-by and a healthy criminal deterrent as it emits loud noises and contacts actual humans if it detects any crime taking place. There have been no reports of the robot being the subject of creative graffiti, though robots are breaking into that sector as well. What happens when a robot graffitis a robot?

Human security guards are fallible, like most humans, and robot ones are a natural fit for a job that requires a great deal of awareness. While their job is not as intensive as that of a police officer, the K5 is the first step in moving robots into positions of enforcement.

Not surprisingly there have been a few glitches. Last year a K5 bumped into a toddler:

A security robot employed to guard a shopping centre in California ran over a toddler, leaving them bruised with a swollen foot and sore head. The 136 kg robot didn’t notice when it ran into the 16-month-year-old child and carried on driving.

“The robot hit my son’s head and he fell face down on the floor. The robot did not stop, it kept moving forward,” Tiffany Cheng, the toddler’s mother, to ABC 7. “He was crying like crazy.” (The Telegraph, 13 July 2016)

The K5 is not armed (yet) but China isn’t waiting around to up the ante. Their Anbot, which is patrolling the departure terminals at Shenzhen International Airport, is equipped with a taser, weighs 165 lbs, and can move at speeds of up to 18 kph.

I feel safer already.


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