Virtual Reality and Security Robots?!

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For the last 5+ years, the team at Knightscope has been hard at work developing a unique set of technologies combining self-driving technology, robotics and artificial intelligence - to help make a massive positive social impact. Our long-term, slightly ambitious, goal is to make the United States of America the safest country in the world, changing everything for everyone. Fortunately, the benefits of all the hard work is starting to pay off - you can read about our crime-fighting wins here.

But what about the (crazy) process of developing these ground breaking technologies? Both our Chief Executive Officer, William Santana Li, and our Chief Design Officer, Aaron Lehnhardt, spent a good amount of time in Detroit at Ford Motor Company so they come at things from a slightly different perspective.

Solid proportions can make or break a design - and frankly doesn’t matter the amount of surface treatment and surface entertainment one might put on something - without a solid foundation it becomes increasingly difficult to produce a great design. In the automotive industry, sometimes there isn’t a lot of variation on proportions due to regulatory requirements, physics, engineering requirements, etc. - so, for example, unlikely you’ll end up with a reverse angle on a windshield.

So when interpreting a hand sketch or digital rendering of a car or truck - with some experience - you can kinda guess what it might end up looking like in real life. But when it comes to our security robots (well, we call them Autonomous Data Machines or ADMs), there are no such existing constraints and there are all-new ones to contend with in the design process. So how to visualize it if something might actually work in the real world with no framework or benchmark or frame of reference?

The answer at Knightscope is Virtual Reality (VR)! So the team went off and built a “virtual design studio” where we can test proportions, digital mock ups and models, color treatments, etc. in VR before going into the prototype stage. VR certainly has helped us avoid some (monster) mistakes and has also been very useful in validating some of our assumptions.

It is a beautiful thing when technology can help build more technology. And even better when that technology can help society!

William Santana Li