A Silicon Valley startup has developed a surveillance robot that it says can cut crime by half, but its appearance on streets would be sure to prompt more debate about technology and privacy.
The K5 Knightscope stands 1.5 meters tall (4 feet 11 inches) and travels around on wheels—something that led the company to promote it to reporters as “a mashup of Robocop and R2D2.”
Like its fictional parallels, the K5 is packed with gadgets: There are several cameras to provide an all-around view day and night, a laser imaging sensor that maps an area in 3D, a thermal imaging system, and facial and license plate recognition systems. An air particle sensor is planned for the future.
Knightscope’s chairman and CEO, William Santana Li, said his inspiration for the K5 came from the Sandy Hook school shooting in December last year, and a realization that more can be done to prevent similar massacres.