Robots Are Security Guards of the Future

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The security guard of the future is an all-seeing robot, endowed with laser scanning, thermal imaging, 360-degree video and sensors for all kinds of signals, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Dozens of the self-propelled, wheeled robots are already on patrol in places like the Golden 1 Center arena in Sacramento, a residential development near Tampa, and at venues in Boston, Atlanta and Dallas. They are cheaper than human beings, require no health insurance, never clamor for a raise and work 24 hours a day. They also sometimes fall into fountains.

A Mountain View, Ca., start-up, Knightscope, contracts out four types of indoor and outdoor robotic sentinels. So far, it has put 47 in service in 10 states. Stacy Dean Stephens, a cofounder of Knightscope, said, “It’s very reasonable to believe that by the end of next year, we’d have a couple of hundred of these out.” The robots are both friendly, with calming blue lights, and imposing in size. “They get attention,” Stephens said. “There’s a reason they’re five-and-a-half feet tall. There’s a reason they are three feet wide, weigh over 400 pounds, because you want it to be very conspicuous.” The advent of self-propelled autonomous robots has trod on a few feet, literally and figuratively. Knightscope’s security robots are largely aimed for use on private property, giving them greater latitude. “There are a lot of issues of how to stop it from hurting people, accidentally running over their toes, pushing over children and dogs, that kind of thing,” said A. Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami Law School professor who specializes in policy issues around robots.

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