Robotic security guards: The future of keeping people safe

Image courtesy of KXAN

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As new technologies continue to shape our world, one company hopes to use them to reduce crime.

Silicon Valley-based company Knightscope is in Austin this week, talking to Texas businesses about their robotic security guards. The K3 and K5 Autonomous Data Machines utilize cameras, sensors, microphones and GPS technology as they patrol. They’re already on the job in California, being used in malls, hospitals, sporting venues and businesses.

“Our goal in the future is to be able to reduce crime altogether,” said Stacy Stephens, one of the co-founders and vice president of Marketing & Sales. “Most people are unaware crime has a $1 trillion negative economic impact on the United States every single year. We feel like with a combination of the software plus hardware plus humans, we can reduce that by 50 percent.”

Each of the four cameras on the robots can scan 300 license plates per minute, for a total of 1,200 plates per minute. If it detects a vehicle that should not be on the property, the client receives an instant notification. Clients can put specific license plates on a “blacklist.”

“Blacklist are people you want to know about immediately. Terminated employees, perhaps you have people to whom you’ve issued criminal trespass warnings, or if you want to keep domestic violence from entering into workplace violence, you can give employees the ability to blacklist their abuser’s license plates. So it makes them more productive and gives them a safe and secure place to come to work,” said Stephens.

The robots are also designed to detect anomalies, like someone on the property of a mall after hours.

The company began their mission as a direct result to mass shootings. They hope to one day get the technology in the hands of law enforcement agencies and schools. Stephens says they recently did a demonstration of the product to a Texas law enforcement agency, but he could not disclose which one.

The robots are not meant to replace humans, but rather help them do their jobs better. Stephens, a former law enforcement officer, says the robots have already helped solve crimes and prevent them.

“We’ve actually caught a thief, we were instrumental in writing an arrest warrant for somebody who was a sexual predator doing nefarious business, and we’ve also stopped a fraudulent insurance claim,” said Stephens.

People can also talk to the robots, using it to connect with the company’s security operations center.

Businesses who want one of these robots can get a subscription. While human security guards may cost $25 to $30 an hour, the robot costs about $7 an hour. If the robot works 24/7, it’ll cost $5,000 per month.