Science-fiction has long predicted that robots may one day rise up and destroy us, but one company in the U.S. is banking on them helping keep us all safe.
TechCrunch report that a start- up company called Knightscope has set about designing and building the world’s first ‘Robocop’.
Knightscope’s K5 security robots look a bit like what would happen if Apple designed a Dalek, with a dash of Orwell’s Big Brother thrown in as well.
The K5’s have sophisticated broadcasting and monitoring systems making them capable of keeping public spaces crime free, as they trundle through open areas, halls and corridors looking for suspicious characters.
These crime-fighting robots essentially work like mobile CCTV cameras except they use 360-degree high-definition and low-light infrared camera’s to capture footage. They also upload whatever they see to a backend security network
But don’t go thinking that these robots are just wheelie bins with cameras glued to them, they can also ‘talk’ to passers-by using a built-in microphone. An audio event detection system means that they can also ‘hear’ and pick up on activities like breaking glass and send an alert to the backend system as well.
Incredibly, office buildings are starting to use K5 units as security assistants. Knightscope wouldn’t name which companies, but told TechCrunch that the robots are being used at a number of tech companies and a shopping centre in Silicon Valley at the moment.
Knightscope doesn’t think its robots will replace mall cops or security guards in the near future, instead the company sees them as valuable assistants to human security teams. The start-up currently rents out each five-foot, 300-pound K5 unit for $6.25 (£4.36) per hour – that’s less than minimum wage both in the U.S. and UK.
Rowdy teenagers or other people tempted to kick or push the robots over may be shocked to find the robots will talk back to them, film their attack and alert authorities behind the scenes as well.
Interestingly though, Knightscope don’t want to stop at crime fighting drones. Co-founder Stacey Dean Stephens, a former law enforcement agent, came up with the idea to build a ‘predictive network’ to prevent crime.
The company is reportedly working on an integrated security network which will allow them to monitor and report suspicious activity in real time, based on robot observation, and could possibly be used to predict crimes – Stephens claims it may even be able to predict mass shootings.
Stephens and his co-founder William Li have raised close to $12 million (£8,379,039) in funding so far to build on the idea.
Think I’ve already spotted a bit of a design flaw, though. What’s it going to do if I go upstairs?