Robot Security Guards Demoed At Microsoft
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Monday, 24 November 2014

Microsoft has showcased K5 robot security guards at its Silicon Valley Campus. The 5-foot tall machines are said to provide a “commanding but friendly physical presence.”

Correction: An earlier version of this news story stated that Microsoft had hired the K5 robots to patrol its campus. This was incorrect. The Microsoft facility was simply being used to demonstrate the robots as part of a conference held there. 




The K5, from California-based Knightscope, looks like a slim, shiny Daleks and is described as an “autonomous data machine”.

Its qualification for taking on a surveillance role is that it is equipped with four high-def cameras facing in each direction, another camera that can do car license plate recognition. It detects sound using four microphones and can emit warnings both with light  and sounds from gentle alarm tones to a blaring siren. WiFi connectivity ensures that each robot can contact HQ if there’s some kind of security breach/situation.

In addition they are fitted with laser range finders, GPS and heat-detecting technology. It is also claimed that they can predict where criminals will strike next and the likelihood of future crimes. This comes courtesy of AI software that integrates data and tries to make intelligent inferences. 



While they can run for around 24 hours on a single battery charge and, like robot lawnmowers, will return to base when they need to recharge, they have the same drawback as the Daleks - they cannot climb steps. International Business Times, which carried one of the earliest reports of this story, quoted MIT Technology Review reporter, Rachel Metz related that a K5:

"had somehow toppled over the edge of the sidewalk onto the parking-lot asphalt several inches below. A couple of Knightscope folks were needed to pull it upright." 

Whereas the Daleks possessed lethal weaponry, the K5's are currently unarmed although there is some suggestion that in future they might deploy tasers.

Would this be acceptable?

Robots taking over a routine and monotonous job previously done by humans is one level of controversy. Giving them the power to inflict pain or even death is quite another.





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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 November 2014 )