Autonomous vehicle technology is being adopted to power security robots to make indoor and outdoor spaces safer. Knightscope offers security robots backed by software and wireless connectivity to help law enforcement, security companies and businesses.
Auto Futures attended a demonstration of the Knightscope Roadshow, and talked with Stacy D. Stephens, EVP and Chief Client Officer, Knightscope, Inc.
The interview was conducted virtually via cellular and cameras in a glass shrouded demonstration pod in the parking lot of the Commerce Casino in Commerce, a primarily industrial city south of downtown Los Angeles.
What Robots and Specs Does Knightscope Offer?
The solarium was decked out with black floors with three white robots, cameras, signs and large video screens. The Knightscope K1 is stationary and the tallest robot at 69 inches (1.7526 m) tall and is used for gateways, entries, exits, malls, hospitals, airports, offices and casinos. It has four eye-level cameras, 16 microphones, pre-recorded messages, text to speech and live audio. K1 security functions include elevated body temperature and facial recognition.
The K1 is the only robot with facial recognition, says Stephens. It is available depending on the state and the application. It could be used to recognize someone who maybe has a restraining order or a known criminal. In California, facial recognition is only available for private property.
The robot that dominated the space was the Knightscope K5 with a shiny blue lidar puck on top.
“The K5 is 62.5″ (1.5875 m) tall and weighs 398 pounds (180.53 kg). The height was chosen so it can see at eye level. K5 is the outdoor model with an outer shell is made of composite material coated with automotive paint. There are lights embedded around it. The K5 will make sounds or flash lights so that it is visible,” says Stephens.
The K3 autonomous robot is shorter at 51″ (1.2954 m) tall, with black cloth covering its upper body designed for indoor environments.
The K3 and K5 Autonomous Security Robots (ASR) feature real-time alerts, broadcast messages, eye-level 360° HD video, intercoms and emergency call buttons, plus the sensors and autonomous software to navigate and move on their own. The robots have 3 SIMs for wireless connectivity to connect to Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC).
Customers can access video and real-time data at any time through apps available on multiple platforms and web-based software.
The K3 and K5 use geofencing for patrolling a set area. They continue to watch the area while they are docked for charging, says Stephens.
Although Stephens did not reveal exactly what is inside the robots – Knightscope has announced partnerships for its 5th generation ASRs with NVIDIA, Velodyne Lidar, Inc. and Vicor for propulsion/recharging technology.
“It is highly unlikely that a gunshot will disable a robot entirely.”
Many people think that when a K5 is moving around a parking lot they might get run over. It does not happen often. In truth, there is less speeding in parking structures when a Knightscope robot is deployed.
“We find that the UPS trucks in the delivery trucks are not speeding, dropping off goods because they know they are being watched. Then if there is an accident, there is proof of who is at fault. Unfortunately, usually, it is the human who is not paying attention,” says Stephens.
Users give the robots names such as Buddy or Watson and Holmes. The K5 ASR named HPRoboCop in Huntington Park reduced calls for service, crime reports and citations while increasing arrests by 27%.
Knightscope robots are not for sale. They are deployed via machine-as-a-service (MaaS) and paid by yearly or monthly subscriptions. They are very affordable, costing between $3.50 and $7.50 an hour. Most clients operate the robots 24 hours a day.
A Knightscope ASR can cover about half a million square feet (46451.52 sq. m.) or 17 football fields. The flashing lights, design and sounds are deterrents to crime. Plus, they are better witnesses than humans.
People make poor witnesses. They are not trained to know what to look for while a robot delivers to the police a true account and instant recap of what happened in HD video. Usually, a police officer will go into a situation without much information. Knightscope gives the police a better understanding of what is going on, says Stephens.
Law enforcement and security personnel are not perfect – they can be affected by heat, cold, bad weather, drowsiness and other distractions. However, robots don’t call in sick or get distracted.
While at the demo, K5 and K3 navigated around the pod without a hitch. It was hot in the pod. Most humans left the pod for shade outside. One reporter braved the glass toaster oven pod with the temperature outside approaching 92 °F (32.22 °C) while wearing a LA county-mandated double-layered face mask by taking off a cotton plaid Calvin Klein Sport jacket and leaving it on the floor.
While the reporter was sitting on the floor near fainting, with eyeglasses steaming, taking copious notes, the K5 waited for the K3 to leave the charging dock. After the K3 left the dock, the K5 backed into the charging dock. The K3 went patrolling around the pod, stopping at the plaid jacket and then went around it. The heat did not bother the robots like it did the humans.
The reporter did manage to ask, ‘Along with being weatherproof, is the K5 bulletproof?’
“Although the robots are not bulletproof, it is highly unlikely that a gunshot will disable a robot entirely,” Stephens answered.
Can Autonomous Security Robots Replace Humans?
Stephens is a former police officer who warns that ASRs are not human security or law enforcement replacements.
“A robot is not a one-person replacement. It is a way to augment security. Then when the police are called, they have more information and a better understanding of what is going on,” says Stephens.
What’s Next for Knightscope?
“We invite everyone interested in investing or learning more to come to one of our roadshow demos coming across the U.S.,” Stephens adds.
Due to a future IPO, Stephens was not able to talk about future Knightscope applications. However, he did hint that if sensors can detect things or new features in security software are developed – they could eventually come to the Knightscope robots.
Knightscope previously revealed a beta prototype all-terrain K7 ASR which looks more like a car or an elongated power lawnmower coming down the road to patrol larger areas.
Stephens predicts the future of Knightscope’s ASRs, “There are many more possibilities coming. There are a lot of numbers after the number seven and many more places to protect.”