At just 5ft, they may not seem like the most imposing security guards, but they could soon be patrolling shopping centres around the world. The Knightscope K5 robots are the creation of a Silicon Valley startup firm and have been specially designed for fighting crime. And the company says it has just signed a deal which will see the droids roll out across 16 cities.
New contracts will see the K5 units patrol shopping precincts across the US, including New York and Massachusetts. And they could one day become a common sight in shopping precincts worldwide.
Knightscope was set up in 2013 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing. Its founders believed that robots could help provide law enforcement with valuable intelligence and help cut crime by up to as much as 50 per cent.
Their K3 and K5 model robots, which look more like R2D2 than Robocop, have already been picked up by a number of firms, including Microsoft, and a number of malls in the US.
And they could one day be used by police forces, according to reports.
‘We’re starting off in the public arena, so we are allowing them to patrol places like shopping centres, corporate campuses, professional sporting arenas and movie studios,’ Stacy Dean Stephens, a co-founder of Knightscope, said. ‘Once the [robots] prove that what we are saying they are doing is actually happening, then you go to a mayor and say, “hey, we are actually able to reduce crime,” and they are going to buy into this very, very, quickly.’
The K5 crime-fighting robots come with GPS, lasers, and heat-detecting technology
They are designed to function without any human control and are built with surveillance cameras, sensors, odour detectors and a thermal imaging system.
They also have scanners that can read an impressive number of 300 car registration plates every single minute. When on patrol, they uses lasers to calculate the distance and also rely on their GPS system. The robots are autonomous and designed to avoid confrontations.
When someone steps right in front of one, the robot will stop, and move around them – while sending video inside to a control centre where a human is monitoring.