On March 9, 2017, Knightscope demonstrated at Arlington Police Department for the University of Texas and the media their R2-D2 look-alike robot designed to assist with security.
At the moment, the Knightscope series of automated enforcers does little more than scan license plates or report people trespassing in restricted areas. Recently one managed to help solve a crime via its constant video surveillance and wireless device detection.
The Knightscope K3 is a 300 lbs obelisk of with electric blue lights, just over four feet tall and about as unfriendly as it is possible to look. Its shiny casing is made from a lightweight composite “similar to a Corvette.” It patrols at a brisk 3mph within a user-defined “geo-fence” virtual barrier. Its cousin, the K5, is even bigger and tougher, designed for outdoor patrol. A four-wheeled model engineered to tackle rough terrain is on the way.
Knightscope co-founder and Coppell ex-cop Stacy Stephens expects a lot from future models of their artificial guardians:
“Long-term, our ultimate goal is to be able to predict and prevent crime,” he said, by analyzing past data with real-time, on-site information collected by the robots. “Then maybe we have the ability to put the robots into a patrol state where they are hitting those hotspots.”
The robots sport an array of sensors, from thermal imaging to air quality, and have cameras and microphones running so that an individual in danger can communicate directly with security personnel. They can synchronize with officer smartphones and relay vital information to authorities with the sort of precision a human being under duress never could.
This isn’t the first time robotics have aided law enforcement — or even the first time in Dallas, Texas. Last year, a robot bomb was deployed by police officers to neutralize a sniper that was killing police officers when city police chief David Brown said that they “saw no other options” to avoid further danger to officers.
Knightscope has already put roughly two dozen of its AI officers to work at about a dozen California businesses, including Microsoft, the Westfield Shopping Centers, Juniper Network and the Sacramento Kings, but this was the company’s first demonstration in Texas. The UTA police have already expressed “[definite] interest” in the technology, but Assistant Chief Patrick Bridges said that no official decision has been made.
For now, the Knightscope robots are the logical evolution of security cameras and provide numerous potential resources for both law enforcement and potential victims of criminal activity. They may not take the law into their own hands, but they represent another step forward in the eternal war on crime.
I guess that means it’s “Your move, creep.”