Robot Cops Menace the Malls of Silicon Valley

 

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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.

Published in Policing, Science & Technology
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There are 32 comments.

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  1. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Don’t worry about your pesky freedom we’re definitely not on the road to an omnipresent surveillance state!

    In before the inevitable “It’s all in public anyway so why do you care if you’re filmed and monitored constantly? What, do you have something to hide?”

    • #1
  2. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    If it goes down I think I can take these guys…

    • #2
  3. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Just warn me when we get to this level …

    • #3
  4. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Tommy De Seno:If it goes down I think I can take these guys…

    Side question: is it just communication they use to warn people off or are they armed somehow? If they can be armed, who’s liable for excessive-force or wrongful death complaints? Remote monitoring employees, programmers, the robots’ owners or property owners employing the robots?

    If they are owned by the development company in California but operate in Phoenix do you sue the company in CA, AZ or federal court for the various abuses?

    • #4
  5. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    C. U. Douglas:Just warn me when we get to this level …

    According the “Black Lives Matter” we’re there now.

    • #5
  6. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: And I’m sure the lonely nerds steering the bots will never use them to stalk the hot chick who works the Clinique counter.

    “The K5 was on auto! She must have been doing something suspicious. I never would spy on Erin…er…that clerk.”

    • #6
  7. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    If you’re comfortable scarfing down Cinnabons in a public food court, then you have long ago stopped caring what people think of you.

    ;-)

    • #7
  8. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    All the major tech companies are run by fascist-loving hippies. Robot police by themselves might be alarming, but robot police programmed and governed by Obama fanatics?

    Amazon Prime has headlined its transsexual dad show for weeks now. The price of many good services these days is walking through a parade of lunacy and evil to reach the content you want.

    • #8
  9. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: One look at these real-life Daleks and all I hear is “Exterminate! Exterminate!“

    Yeah, but they seem pretty harmless without the plungers.

    • #9
  10. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Misthiocracy:If you’re comfortable scarfing down Cinnabons in a public food court, then you have long ago stopped caring what people think of you.

    ;-)

    Hey man! That hurts.

    • #10
  11. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    I don’t know….they look like they’d tip over rather easily if given a hard enough sudden contact with a 20LB sledge.

    • #11
  12. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Hartmann von Aue:I don’t know….they look like they’d tip over rather easily if given a hard enough sudden contact with a 20LB sledge.

    Plus, I’d rather be surveilled by a very obvious robot than by a network of hidden cameras.

    • #12
  13. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Austin Murrey:

    Misthiocracy:If you’re comfortable scarfing down Cinnabons in a public food court, then you have long ago stopped caring what people think of you.

    ;-)

    Hey man! That hurts.

    That’s just the heart attack talking.

    • #13
  14. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Misthiocracy:

    Hartmann von Aue:I don’t know….they look like they’d tip over rather easily if given a hard enough sudden contact with a 20LB sledge.

    Plus, I’d rather be surveilled by a very obvious robot than by a network of hidden cameras.

    You say that now, but when one of those things pulls up the urinal next you . . .

    • #14
  15. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: (Seriously, guys, couldn’t you have made the eyes glow red?)

    The eyes only glow red when they’re in kill mode.  Didn’t you see I, Robot?

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Silly meatbags. Eat your rations and get back to work.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Vance Richards:

    Misthiocracy:

    Hartmann von Aue:I don’t know….they look like they’d tip over rather easily if given a hard enough sudden contact with a 20LB sledge.

    Plus, I’d rather be surveilled by a very obvious robot than by a network of hidden cameras.

    You say that now, but when one of those things pulls up the urinal next you . . .

    If they send those things into the mens room they should probably redesign ’em so they don’t look like urinals.

    • #17
  18. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    It would be fun to throw a cheap plastic tarp over one of these to see what it would do.

    • #18
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    And as these things become more and more self-aware are we in a position to handle the consequences?

    love

    • #19
  20. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I keep coming back to this article because it’s awesome in both its terribleness and potential hilariousness. I wonder if you can customize the audio.

    Would Amazon be able to make the robot cop scream “Danger Jeff Bezos! Danger!” if there was a trespasser on a distribution center?

    • #20
  21. Statistician1 Inactive
    Statistician1
    @Statistician1

    Well I guess it could be worse… they could look like an Austrian on Steroids.

    • #21
  22. Hydrogia Inactive
    Hydrogia
    @Hydrogia

    Weebles wobble,  but they don’t fall down.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    C. U. Douglas:Just warn me when we get to this level …

    A killer robot that can’t handle stairs?

    • #23
  24. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    EJHill:And as these things become more and more self-aware are we in a position to handle the consequences?

    love

    “I never could figure out why 3106 would choose such a trashy girlfriend.”

    • #24
  25. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    I’ve seen Chopping Mall. Nothing good can come of this.

    • #25
  26. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Cow tipping, urban edition. Just wear a burka.

    • #26
  27. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Sometimes, inventing something just because you can is not a good idea.

    In my old neighborhood, I would expect these to disappear and show up on the streets later with flames painted on them, mugging parking meters for lunch money.

    At least they could name them The Paul Blart 3000.

    • #27
  28. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    TKC1101:Sometimes, inventing something just because you can is not a good idea.

    In my old neighborhood, I would expect these to disappear and show up on the streets later with flames painted on them, mugging parking meters for lunch money.

    At least they could name them The Paul Blart 3000.

    Yabbut, they ain’t designed for your old neighbourhood. They’re designed for (presumably high-end) malls in Silicon Valley.

    • #28
  29. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    There’s a great story out there about a little robot who hitchhiked across the country and made friends. Sadly, when he got to Philly, someone disconnected him.

    The anthropomorphic robot named hitchBOT sits on the shoulder of Highway 102 to begin its 6000 kilometer cross country journey outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 27, 2014. The hitch hiking robot is part of a social experiment to see if drivers will pick up and drop off the robot in one piece to an art gallery in Victoria, British Columbia.  REUTERS/Paul Darrow (CANADA - Tags: SOCIETY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR40APN

    • #29
  30. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    These are NOT the ‘droids we’re looking for.

    • #30
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