BreakingModern — Science fiction is often a harbinger for what’s to come. And now robot cops (yes, just like Robocop) have become a reality. The K5 robot now patrols some Silicon Valley locations, including Microsoft’s offices in the area.
Developed by robotic startup Knightscope, the K5 isn’t quite like the gun-toting Robocop in the movies. Rather, it looks like a large R2D2, standing five feet tall, weighing in at 300 pounds and sporting a rounded white frame. Instead of destroying, it surveys, detects and reports suspicious behavior.
Under the hood of the K5 are surveillance cameras and sensors, a thermal imaging system, scanners that can read 300 car registration plates a minute, and odor detectors. It uses these sensors and analytics to decide if something looks suspicious and whether to report it to authorities, and even send relevant data like a video or license plate number. It may not have a gun, but it has a loud, screeching alarm that escalates in intensity.
Smart, but not too smart
This robot may not be Robocop smart, but it uses predictive analysis that draws information from government, businesses and social media sources to predict the likelihood of a crime in a given area. It can determine if it should alert authorities it if comes across anything suspicious.
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The K5 is really meant to be a crime deterrent in its current incarnation. The company notes that many people say it is “cute” and want to hug it. Yet the K5 is perhaps a taste of what’s to come for robot security — at least that’s what Knightscope hopes.
“As important as our smartphones are to our lives today, we will wonder in the future how we ever lived without these machines in our communities helping keep our families safe, our neighborhoods vibrant and our businesses thriving,” said William Santana Li, chairman and CEO of Knightscope, the robotic startup that designed K5.
Li said in GigaOm that Knightscope created the K5 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Since having an armed officer at every school is unfeasible, the K5 could be an alternative. A five-foot-tall robot might be enough to make someone think twice about any criminal activity and if it isn’t, the K5 will alert authorities, he says.
Robot Cop Future
So what’s next for the K5? The company says it has a waiting list of about 48 companies who want the robots, which are expected to be deployed in corporate environments, college campuses and outdoor malls. It costs approximately $1,000 a month to “hire” the K5 for eight-hour shifts.
“I believe robots are the perfect tools to handle the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work in order to free up humans to more judiciously address activities requiring higher-level thinking, hands-on encounters or tactical planning,” Li said.