Knightscope’s New K5 Security Robot Is like RoboCop Without the Guns


Knightscope has developed a new security robot that’s capable of carrying out a wide range of tasks. The K5 was revealed in December and showcased these days at the Launch Festival in San Francisco.

In all fairness, K5 doesn’t look like RoboCop. It looks more like R2D2 on steroids. However, its capabilities are impressive.

The robot has a GPS locator, LIDAR 3D mapping, thermal imaging camera, night vision camera, optical character recognition, behavioral analysis, audio recording and proximity sensors. The cameras can be used to film 360 degree HD video. Furthermore, it has sensors for detecting biological and chemical radiation.

K5 moves autonomously and it’s even capable of charging itself. The video presentation made by Knightscope shows the robot scanning the license plates of parked cars in an effort to determine if any of them raise any flags.

In case of an incident, it can automatically call 911 while capturing relevant information that shocked bystanders might not be able to remember.

Knightscope’s CEO William Santana Li told Gigaom that K5 was created after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Li believes that such a security robot could be implemented in many schools because it’s impossible to place armed officers in every school.

While it doesn’t pack any guns, the 5-foot-tall robot could make a perpetrator change his mind.

The software installed on the K5 is just as impressive as the hardware. Each robot is designed to collect around 90 Tb of data per year. However, not all data is collected from the physical environment. It’s also capable of retrieving information from the Internet, including social media channels.

This makes such robots useful for surveillance missions at events such as the Boston Marathon, where several people were killed or injured by bombs. The large amount of information collected by K5 could have allowed investigators to track down the suspects without having to analyze massive volumes of useless information.

Once it’s rolled out on a large scale in 2015, organizations will be able to hire the robot for 8-hour shifts for which they’ll have to pay $1,000 (€730) per month. Over 30 companies have already expressed interest in using the robot for security.

For now, the K5 will be put to the test at one company in Silicon Valley. In the meantime, Knightscope will refine the way the robot interacts with people.

There are some privacy concerns, considering that there’s a lot of data collected. However, Li believes that the privacy concerns should be overcome by the fact that the robot is designed to protect people against physical harm.

Furthermore, Li highlights the fact that the surveillance carried out by the K5 is on the same level as a camera installed at ATMs or mall security.


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