Dalek-like Robot Security Guard To Launch By Year-End

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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While unarmed, the K5 can monitor premises and collect useful data, predicting possible threats using data analytics

knightscope-k5-robotSilicon Valley start-up Knightscope has said it is planning to launch its robotic security guard, the K5, by the end of the year.

The units, which resemble streamlined Daleks, have been in the works since last year, and are intended to help monitor corporate campuses, schools and shopping malls, replacing humans for some monotonous or dangerous tasks.

Seven have been built so far, and Knightscope said four will soon go on their first active deployment. The first customer will be an as-yet-unnamed Silicon Valley technology firm’s campus, according to a report by the MIT Technology Review.

Knightscope is pitching the robot as an application of predictive analytics – an “autonomous data machine” that can alert its human handlers to suspicious activity based on a combination of its own information and that drawn from publicly available sources.

“Data collected through these sensors is processed through the K5’s predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business, government and crowdsourced social data sets, and subsequently assigned an alert level that determines when the community and the authorities should be notified of a concern,” Knightscope said in a statement.

The robot is also intended to provide a “commanding but friendly physical presence” in the areas it monitors, and features a button that those in need of help can use to summon assistance, Knightscope said.

The K5 includes four high-definition cameras, one on each side of the robot, a licence-plate recognition camera, four microphones, a weather sensor and Wi-Fi and wireless data communications. It navigates using GPS and laser ranging technology, finding its own way around once a human has initially guided it around a new area. The robot’s battery holds a 24-hour charge, and it is capable of returning to a charging pad when needed.

Human replacement

It communicates with humans using browser-based software, through which its cameras and other data can be monitored. If needed a human can speak to those near the robot using its speakers.

If approached, it will stop abruptly, and emits a piercing alarm if tampered with. At the same time, it is intended as a resassuring presence, and the company is considering developing a mobile app with which a university student could summon one to accompany them across the campus at night, according to Technology Review.

Several dozen customers are reportedly interested in the technology, including several security companies looking to reduce employee turnover. Knightscope said it will charge $6.25 (£4) an hour to “employ” each robot.

One limitation is that, like Daleks, the K5 isn’t capable of dealing with steps, and requires humans to set it right-side up again if it falls over, as Technology Review saw during a demonstration in front of Microsoft’s Building 1 earlier this month.

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