It’s quite the interesting premise isn’t it? And one that might make an interesting movie! It’s known as the Knightscope, an “autonomous data machine” currently in development by Silicon Valley startup Knightscope Inc. Ultimately, the purpose of this new breed of robot will be to conduct the important and often monotonous task of keeping watch over property more cost effectively and comprehensively than a human security guard.
Earlier this month, Knightscope revealed that they had secured beta customers for the first two models – the K5 and K10. The robots, which share a passing resemblance to R2-D2, collect real-time data via a network of sensors. These would range from 360-degree HD video camera, microphones, thermal imaging sensors, infrared sensors, radar, lidar, ultrasonic speed and distance sensors, air quality sensors, and optical character recognition technology for scanning things like license plates.
Depending on the sensor loadout, the units can be used to monitor differences in temperature, calculate the traveling speed and distance of surrounding objects/people, observe night time activity using infrared technology, and provide precision 3D mapping of an area. There are also plans to include facial recognition technology to help recognize an offender or wanted persons once the technology has been perfected.
This data would then be fed into a centralized data center that law enforcement agencies would be able to access data in real time, giving them a unique vantage point to assess the situation before arrival. As well as providing real time alerts, Knightscope says companies will be able to analyze historical data collected over time to help predict crime and allow companies to make better business decisions.
We founded Knightscope in response to the President and Sandy Hook’s calls to action and with the ultimate goal of providing an avenue for all Americans to join the fight against crime.
The company also says that the K10 model is intended for vast open areas and on private roads, while the K5 robot is better suited to more space-constrained environments. In essence, the K10 would be well suited to things like detailed traffic analysis while the K5 would be capable of handling indoor tasks, everything ranging from security to factory inspections.
Personally, I think a fleet of robotic surveillance and security robots is an cost-effective and sensible alternative to bulletproofing classrooms or arming teachers. So far, no options have been made for arming the robots, but that’s probably for the be best. No sense in arming the machines before they are intelligent enough to turn them on their masters with hostile intent!
The K5 Beta prototype was featured at the Plug and Play Winter Expo in Sunnyvale, California and beta testing is due to commence at the end of this year. And be sure to enjoy the following video, courtesy of the Knightscope company