The security guard of future is five feet tall, Wi-Fi-equipped and looks uncannily like a cross between a Dalek and EVE from Wall-E.
This is the K5 Autonomous Data Machine, the first product from Californian start-up Knightscope designed to replace human guards everywhere from schools to offices.
The K5 was first unveiled in 2014 but has now been deployed for the first time at the Microsoft campus in Silicon Valley. The K5 has been to be ‘shown around’ its environment by a human controller to build a basic map, but will then happily patrol on its own, reporting any anomalies back to base.
Each bot weighs about 136kg and is equipped with a whole array of sensors, measuring movement, sound, location temperature, carbon dioxide levels and barometric pressure. There’s no weapons on board however, and the K5 will merely sound an ear-splitting alarm and send for human back-up if it gets spooked.
Speaking to MIT Technology Review, Knightscope co-founder Stacy Stephens said the K5 “takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application.”
Stephens says Knightscope wants to start putting its robots in work from the beginning of next year (K5 bots are employed not bought) and the hourly ‘wage’ of $6.25 should be attractive to companies used to paying double that for security.
However, while the K5 might be useful in certain situations (such as patrolling a large area that’s not too much of a security risk), most clients will probably find themselves preferring a bit of human help – especially if an intruder decides to make for the stairs.