A rolling, riot-control robot called AnBot was unveiled over the weekend at China’s Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair. The oblong machine has been called the country’s first “intelligent security guard” – equipped with an SOS button, autonomous navigation, on-board cameras, and even a riot-control tool that enables it to electrocute noncompliant individuals.
The five-foot, 170-pound robot was built by China’s National Defense University — and it was built to last. AnBot can work continuously for eight hours on a single charge. All the while, on-board sensors –which mimic the human brain, eyes, and ears, according the China’s state run newspaper, The People’s Daily– allow for intelligent video analysis and autonomous movement. A top speed of 11 MPH means AnBot can momentarily keep up with most joggers, though the machine’s standard patrol speed is about 0.6 MPH. If people feel threatened within AnBot’s patrol area, they can call for help or notify police by pressing an SOS button on the robot’s body. AnBot can also escalate it’s security measures and zap people if events get out of hand.
AnBot has already received attention from commenters online. Infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden retweeted a photo of the machine and sarcastically added, “Surely this will end well.” Some Twitter users suggested AnBot functioned like Robocop’s Enforcement Droid Series 209 (Ed-209). Others noted AnBot’s striking resemblance to The Daleks from Doctor Who.
Silicon Valley has it’s own Dalek-like security robots. A couple dozen Knightscope K5s currently patrol corporate campuses, shopping malls, and data centers in the Silicon Valley area, according to Fast Company. K5s cost just $6.25 an hour, a fraction of California’s minimum wage. And they have similar sensory features as AnBot like an audio detection feature that listens for car horns and breaking glass. However, K5s can only operate for about 45 minutes before needing a five-minute recharge. And Knightscope also hasn’t built their security robots with crowd-control tasers – at least not yet.