Forbes

Knightscope Security Robots Spotted On Uber Parking Lot And Mall Patrol

It was only a matter of time before the robots really dug in and started policing the populace. They are already delivering pizza and replacing fast-food cashiers so robots replacing security guards was a natural next step. Enter Silicon Valley based Knightscope, the maker of the 300 pound K5 security robot.

The robot was spotted patrolling the Uber inspection lot in San Francisco, but has been in use in other locations in California for some time now. The K5 is part Knightscope’s beta program for the security bots and is already showing positive results. The robot isn’t armed in the traditional sense, but instead is loaded with multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision.

While not exactly a ED-209, the K5 also boasts a thermal camera, weather sensors, license-plate recognition system, microphones, a laser rangefinder, and person recognition capabilities. The five-foot tall egg shaped patrol-bot is rented by customers at the cost of around seven dollars an hour. Companies rent two robots, so one can charge while the other patrols a geofenced area.

Stacy Stephens, Knightscope’s VP of marketing, told Fusion.net “For the cost of a single-shift security guard, you get a machine that will patrol for 24 hours a day 7 days a week.” This is based on average security guard wages of $25 to $35 dollars a hour. Knightscope has also inked deals with a couple large security companies.

Instagram users have also spotted the robots in use at Stanford Shopping Center, and have been tagging them on Instagram with the hashtag #securityrobot. Right now, the robot is a sense of amusement for passers-by and a healthy criminal deterrent as it emits loud noises and contacts actual humans if it detects any crime taking place. There have been no reports of the robot being the subject of creative graffiti, though robots are breaking into that sector as well. What happens when a robot graffitis a robot?

Human security guards are fallible, like most humans, and robot ones are a natural fit for a job that requires a great deal of awareness. While their job is not as intensive as that of a police officer, the K5 is the first step in moving robots into positions of enforcement. Consider the Telebot, being developed by Florida International University’s Discovery Lab. The Telebot is a six-foot tall grid faced humanoid robot controlled remotely by a human operator. There will come a time when the robot will either assume control or be given control, most likely based on available resources.

Is the world ready for robot police officers? If we’re all watching movies in our self-driving cars,will it really matter? For now, expect more security guard robots to be patrolling parking lots and malls before being replaced with autonomous police-bots with little regard for your excuses.