Step aside, Paul Blart. There’s a new mall cop in town.
Standing five feet and weighing in at 300 pounds, the K5 security robot wanders the grounds of corporate campuses, malls, and data centres in the Silicon Valley Area and gathers information from sensors and cameras. GPS technology allows it to move autonomously around assigned areas and report offenses back to the real cops.
Operating the K5 costs a fraction of a human security guard’s hourly salary, and it’s made less intimidating by its friendly appearance — like a love child between a Dalek and R2-D2.
Still, some Palo Alto, California, parents are losing it after a K5 allegedly knocked down and ran over a 1-year-old child at Stanford Shopping Center earlier this month. The boy’s foot swelled and he got a scrape on his leg, though he is otherwise doing fine, ABC7 News reports.
— Lilian Kim (@liliankim7) July 12, 2016
A security guard at the mall told the boy’s parents it was the second injury to a child caused by the same K5 unit in July.
Until now, the K5 has been a welcomed addition to the streets of Silicon Valley. It’s developed by Knightscope, an autonomous technologies startup launched out of Mountain View, California, in 2013. Over the years, the company has deployed roughly two dozen K5s in the area.
The bot comes equipped with sensors, lasers, and 360-degree cameras, and spends the day patrolling an assigned perimeter. It can detect sounds like cars honking, glass breaking, and people screaming, and scan licence plates. When the K5 senses criminal activity, it alerts human authorities.
“They’re meant for a support role, observing and reporting only,” Stacy Stephens, VP of marketing for Knightscope told Fast Company in a 2015 interview. “There’s no offensive measure to them at all.”
The K5 has been a sort of icon among shoppers in Stanford. People tweet out videos of the robot strolling by and pose for selfies.
According to the Knightscope website, the K5 can “successfully navigate around people and objects in a dynamic indoor or outdoor environment.”
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.