The robotics company Knightscope Inc. was founded in 2013. Based in Silicon Valley, California, the company’s goal is to design and build an Autonomous Data Machine which will be used to monitor crimes in large public areas such as malls, parking lots, and neighborhoods. The company was said to be founded in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. They hope to prevent any future crimes in public settings.
What’s interesting about these robots is there uncanny resemblance to the droids from the Star Wars saga. Commercial buildings can now have there very own R2-D2 chasing after potential criminals.
Currently, there are several models of the K5 and K3 robots deployed across the United States. These “droids” move at about 3 mph in a geo-fenced area, gathering real-time on-site data using their many sensors. They scan license plates, thermal data, and movements of surrounding people. The software determines when to alert the community and authorities about any concerns. The K5 specifically, patrols and charges autonomously. It detects crime using a variety of sensors which include: a video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder, radar, air quality sensors, and a detector of suspicious wireless signals.
Knightscope’s hope is that the Autonomous Data Machine will help local security and law enforcement to detect any trouble, preventing and minimizing public injuries.
Our aim is to cut the crime rate by 50% in a geo-fenced area, which would increase housing values and safety while lowering insurance costs.”
– CEO, William Li
The K5 will alert local authorities if it detects abnormal noise or temperature change, and it is programmed to recognize known criminals.
Using mapping software these “droids” create their on geo-fence perimeter that confines itself to one area. An ultrasonic sensor may also be used to detect objects in its surroundings.
There are concerns for privacy invasion when it comes to a location having one of these robotic officers policing the halls. However, the same complaint can be made for security cameras, which are now a standard in today’s society. The day is coming when Robocops will be policing society on a black and white basis. Hopefully our juries will remain our peers, or the system is going to become overly strict.
With that said, robots are entering our society whether we like it or not, so it’s a matter for adjusting our culture and living in harmony with them and not against them. They may be the greatest defense our society needs in our future’s most dire moments.