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My big problem with public spaces is that there aren’t enough cameras watching Every Single Move I Make. Thankfully, a Silicon Valley startup is correcting this Orwellian oversight by creating a fleet of robot cops that are not at all menacing. (Seriously, guys, couldn’t you have made the eyes glow red?) One look at these real-life Daleks and all I hear is “Exterminate! Exterminate!“
Knightscope’s K5 security bots … have broadcasting and sophisticated monitoring capabilities to keep public spaces in check as they rove through open areas, halls and corridors for suspicious activity.
The units upload what they see to a backend security network using 360-degree high-definition and low-light infrared cameras and a built-in microphone can be used to communicate with passersby. An audio event detection system can also pick up on activities like breaking glass and send an alert to the system as well.
Malls and office buildings are also starting to employ the K5 units as security assistants. Knightscope couldn’t name names, but tells TechCrunch the robots are being used at a number of tech companies and a mall in Silicon Valley at the moment.
The company’s CEO claims they are building a “predictive network” to prevent crime, which sounds great if you never watched Minority Report or if you wish Skynet would just become self-aware already. And I’m sure the lonely nerds steering the bots will never use them to stalk the hot chick who works the Clinique counter.
However, with our cities continually jacking up the minimum wage, the economics of automation are proving irresistible:
The startup currently rents each five-foot, 300-pound K5 unit out for $6.25 per hour (or less than minimum wage). However, teenagers or others tempted to kick or push the robots over may be shocked to find the robots can talk back to them, capture their behavior on film and alert authorities behind the scenes as well.
Please let us know if you ever run across one of these robocops the next time you’re downing 2,000 calories at the Cinnabon. As for me, looks like it’s time to re-up my membership for Amazon Prime.