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Silicon Valley Company Deploys Robotic Security Guards to Keep Watch


"[T]he idea is that they'll keep would-be criminals away."

Image source: KPIX-TV

The Silicon Valley, California company Knightscope has developed unarmed security guard robots unable to arrest anyone and designed to avoid confrontation. But the idea is that they'll keep would-be criminals away.

“The first thing that’s going to happen is the burglar is going to spot the robot. And unfortunately, criminals are inherently lazy. They’re not looking for something that’s going to be confrontational, they’re looking for something that’s going to be an easy target. They see the robot and maybe they move down to the next place down the street," Stacy Stephens, co-founder of Knightscope, said.

Image source: KPIX-TV Image source: KPIX-TV

At 5-feet-tall and 300 pounds, the gadgets look like a character straight out of Star Wars. They're autonomous and use technology similar to that of Google's self-driving cars. They'll be used in outdoor settings, such as corporate campuses, college campuses and open air malls. With light image detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology, the robots decide where and when they'll move within their assigned perimeters.

And when they're confronted by a suspected threat, an alarm will sound. The longer that threat persists, the louder the alarm the sound: “Think of a car alarm but much more intense," Stephens said.

Meanwhile, a human being inside a control center can watch what happens via a live video feed recorded by the robot. The robot uses that video to listen for glass breaking or any other sound that breaking in could cause.

"We’ll get the license plate, picture of the vehicle, geotag location, and time," Stephens explained.

Knightscope's "K5" robots are currently being used in the San Francisco Bay Area, including in Knightscope's own parking lot. An "undisclosed" location in Silicon Valley is also using the technology, KPIX-TV reported.

Knightscope said that about four dozen more companies are waiting for their own K5 robots. The company expects to distribute more of them within the next year.


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