Ever since RoboCop and Terminator 2: Judgment Day hit our screens a quarter century ago, people have dreaming about the use of robots to stop making hamburgers and packing boxes and start protecting the general populace.
That’s the mission statement of the 300-pound K5 security robot: a hefty robotic alternative to the regular security guard who packs an impressive number of features. Having been in development for a few years, the K5 has been making the news this week — after being spotted in its (his?) new job as a mall cop at Stanford Shopping Center, where the sighting has even prompted the hashtag #securityrobot.
“Think of the K5 as an advanced anomaly detection device,” Stacy Dean Stephens, manufacturing company Knightscope’s vice president of marketing and sales, tells Digital Trends. “It patrols within a geofenced area using its sensors to alert security professionals of potential threats. Each machine has 360-degree high definition video for both day and low light; thermal imaging; two-way audio with public address, intercom and broadcast; license plate recognition; and people detection — to name a few [of its attributes].”
As with many smart devices, K5’s big selling point is not just its abundance of built-in features, but the way it can feed data back to its bosses.
“Customers receive real time alerts via the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC), a browser-based user interface and its mobile application, which is currently available on iOS, with Android soon to follow,” Stephens continues. “Users can generate reports tracking the movements of machines — like a breadcrumb trail — to ensure coverage in blind spots traditionally missed by CCTV.”
Of course, along with the range of other robot security guards we’re starting to see more of, some people are bound to feel uncomfortable about the K5 robot being used to put traditional (human) security guards out of business — especially when you consider it carries out its patrolling services for a little less than seven dollars an hour. “A human cannot possibly remember every license plate that passed through an area during an incident, but the K5 can,” Stephens says — not exactly settling nerves.
However, she notes that Knightscope views its creation as “meant to augment, not replace, [traditional] security guards.”
As the Instagram reaction to K5’s new job shows, we’re not quite past the point of novelty yet with security robots. But there’s no doubt that such machines are carving out quite a niche for themselves!