New Robots Designed to Patrol Routes Security Guards Shun

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-11-22 Print this article Print
Knightscope Robot

Once this map is created, operators can modify it or create exclusion areas using the operations center software.

This software (affectionately known as KSOC) is the third component of the K5 robot installation, after the robots themselves and the charging pads. Stephens said Knightscope hosts the operations center server in its own data center and then provides access through a browser interface to computers or mobile devices. "Somebody needs to be assigned to receive alerts," Stephens said. "Someone has to look at the alert in a browser and respond if necessary."

Stephens pointed out that the K5 robots don't carry weapons or any other means of taking any action other than recording what's going on. However, the robots do have a very loud annunciator and can make a harsh chirping sound to discourage attacks on the device. But the K5 robot won't attack anyone, and if someone attempts to block its movement, the robot will either stop or change course and go around them. There is a large blue emergency button on the top of each robot that can summon assistance.

Knightscope provides the robots as a service. This means that you get the whole kit and caboodle for $6.25 per hour per machine. This price includes operations and maintenance, the operations center software and the charging pad. Right now they're only available in the Silicon Valley area, with deployments starting in 2015. There are a few robots currently operating in test deployments, but the company won't reveal where those are.

In its current configuration, the K5 robot is suitable for outdoor operations in moderate climates. The machinery will operate in the rain and in normal environmental conditions.

However, for uses in more extreme conditions, Knightscope intends to create variants so that operations in a snow-covered parking lot may be possible. Or at some point there could be a model for indoor use such as in shopping malls. "There's no reason we can't make larger models," Stephens said.

What's refreshing about the K5 robot is that the company has aimed its product to meet a specific need that's ideally suited for a robot. That need is performing the dull, repetitive task of being a watchman on the outside of a facility, where employee morale is uniformly low and turnover is high, but which remains very important.

Stephens said that when he's talked with customers at places like shopping malls, for example, the security guards work primarily inside, but most of the crime is outside. That's where the robots can work and where they can make a critical security difference.



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