Technology seems to move at an ever increasing pace these days. At times, it seems like we are living in that distant-future that we imagined as kids.
Here’s further proof that we are and it’s impacting the security guard industry.
Meet the K5 Autonomous Data Machine. It looks like a combination of a Dalek from the TV show Doctor Who and EVE from the movie Wall-E. K5 was designed to operate in a security capacity. It has the ability to patrol an area, and recognize and report any anomalies it senses.
K5 has no weapons. But it has been equipped with GPS, laser-ranging technology, and an array of sensors that detect movement, sound and changes in temperature and barometric pressure. If an anomaly is detected, K5 can emit an alarm and uses Wi-Fi to connect with the command center and call for human backup where security guards can respond within seconds.
Are robots replacing security guards?
The Microsoft campus in Silicon Valley is the first business to use K5. They currently have five of the 300-pound, five-foot-tall units on patrol. If someone attempts to tamper with or harass K5 while it is policing an area, it will emit an alarm and contact the command center. Then an operator can talk with anyone there using the proprietary, browser-based software.
The company Knightscope of Mountain View, California developed the security robot. Along with the five patrolling at Microsoft, only two others have been constructed by the company thus far.
Is K5 meant to completely replace security personnel? Stacy Stephens, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing and cofounder of Knightscope says not necessarily. Her description of K5’s role in security is that it, “…takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application.”
Knightscope is hoping to begin employing the robots widely in 2015. The charge will be just $6.25 per hour.
With a new technology like K5, the real question remains, is it ready for the real-world security challenges it will meet? The following might be an indication that it is not. During an interview for their article on K5, a TechnologyReview.com reporter witnessed one robot roll off a sidewalk and topple over. It needed human help to stand it upright again.
While K5 represents and interesting first step in automated security guards, it is not the final step. K5 can only detect and report. It is not able to intervene, or use good judgment. Only human security officers can offer those services. You probably don’t want to use a K5 in a high-security-risk area, either, because of its limited abilities. Humans would be the best choice. Its physical form of movement, rolling on wheels, also means that it can’t be used well in areas with stairs or sidewalks.
But K5 is intriguing. It offers an interesting look into the future. K5 shows us the possibility of what could be a high-tech, security augmentation that is just around the corner.
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