Back in 2015 when we did our first deployment in the real world (yes, in public) we knew we had a groundbreaking idea but did not yet know how much we still had to learn. We think by now we have forgotten more than most folks know about operating fully autonomous security robots across the country, 24/7, in the rain, at night, in the snow, in the fog, with people, kids, cars and trucks at sunrise and sunset – outdoors and indoors. It was a very, very painful 2015 – everything that could go wrong, went wrong and we likely invented new things to go wrong!
A fully autonomous robot is not easy to build – and much less easy to deploy. There are many systems that have to work together – software, hardware, firmware, electrical, data transfer, data storage, monitoring systems – but we got it all working in 2016 (kinda!) and started focusing on scaling deployments in California only. We geo-constrained the deployments, so we could more easily debug, test and iterate and only in 2017 did we start deployments across the country.
As we always say, every new client deployment is a new opportunity to learn. Knightscope operates in malls, across corporate campuses, manufacturing plants, logistics facilities, hospitals, stadiums, airports, gas stations, casinos, residential and commercial property. The amount of field experience we have gained across different environments is certainly a distinct advantage.
And we learned, learned, and learned and with a combination of our team of professionals from law enforcement, the military and private security executives combined with the team of software, robotics, electrical, mechanical and production engineers – began to plot out a way forward to address these numerous ‘opportunities’.
A product must evolve, especially a technologically intensive one so we pay very close attention to two things, emerging technologies and our client feedback. We have now operated 500,000+ hours in the field with clients and traveled over 250,000 miles running 24/7 across 4 time zones and 15 states – from deserts to through humidity and fog as well as ice and snow. And yes, we have procedures, for hurricanes and floods, since we had to go through those too.
Here are a just a handful of things we have learned based on 5+ years of real-world experience:
Open Areas – our machines are effectively self-driving cars with a very similar technology stack. However, a robot may view the 2nd level of parking structure at a mall very differently during the day when there are cars everywhere and ‘a bit’ differently at night when the mall is vacant. Same goes for that 250 acre auto auction that is vast and somewhat dynamic in nature.
It Is Not Flat! – what your eye sees as flat and what your best engineer sees as flat is likely not flat to a robot; being able to learn how to handle much more difficult terrain including speed bumps has certainly been interesting
Observe and Report Only? – yes, human guards, either contractually or legally are supposed to only observe and report (not intercede), guards often do much more; this drove the development of our Custom Concierge feature utilizing artificial intelligence and natural language processing to be able to communicate with visitors and patrons with hyper local information
Robot Behavior – our machines are kid magnets and imagine operating at 3pm on a Saturday at the mall trying to get through traffic; we had to re-think our entire path planning and navigation strategy
User Interface – we now are on our 6th generation version of our Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC) after significant input from our users. The key here is that our clients knew the we really, really cared about their feedback. After numerous renditions we came up with a design pleasant to look at, that drastically increases productivity and provides analytics that allow customers to made decisions in a fraction of the time it did before. The KSOC effectively helps process the 90+ terabytes of data that a single machines pumps out and puts it into a usable format that a human can utilize.
There is much, much more to come and we are just getting started. We typically push out software updates every couple of weeks and hardware updates every year. Fortunately, our clients enjoy unlimited software, firmware and at times hardware upgrades with our award-winning Machine-as-a-Service (MaaS) subscription service.
Request a demo at www.knightscope.com and be sure to follow us on social media to keep up to date on all new features coming out in the future! Join Us and Be a Force for Good.