A new startup called Knightscope has designed a human-sized robotic security guard that resembles the nose of the NASA space shuttle festooned with lights, cameras, and other things even R2D2 would find mysterious. Called the K5, the robotic security guards have been under development since 2013 and seven of them have been built so far.
The company plans to deploy four of them by the end of this year at a technology company somewhere in the Silicon Valley area of California. Knightscope itself is based in Mountain View.
The K5 units are not aggressive, however. They are designed to patrol and spot anomalous behavior and report it back to a central station which can then deploy human security personnel to the scene to investigate. Security patrols, Knightscope says, are both dangerous (especially at night) and often ineffective. Patrols are often patterned and timed, even if not deliberately, and security guards often become bored with the monotony and miss certain clues. Robots, of course, don’t have these problems.
The K5 robots have cameras, sensors, navigation equipment, and glide on wheels powered by electric motors. They navigate with a sort of advanced version of the way a Roomba moves, integrating GPS and some artificial intelligence.
Setup of the K5 is simple. A human takes the robot out into its patrol area and guides it around for a quick tour to give it a base map to begin from. After that, the AI takes over and the K5 learns on its own, building a more sophisticated map as it explores the area, and creating random patrol patterns from that.
The robots have about 24 hours of charge on board and can recharge in 15 to 20 minutes and will do so on their own, gliding to a charge pad when their status begins to dwindle. Knightscope plans to lease them out to companies for about $6.25 an hour, roughly half the cost of a human security guard in most areas of the country.