Robot security guards are being deployed on the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) campus with the promise of cutting in half the cost of traditional human security guards.
Robocops rolling around Microsoft’s campus
Five of the 300-pound, 5-foot-tall bullet-shaped robocops are rolling around Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Mountain View, Calif. Campus looking for trouble makers, trespassers and keeping employees and their property safe.
Each K5 unit, as they are called by Knightscope, the Mountain View developer of the robots, is equipped with sensors and five high definition cameras with 360 degree views to recognize surroundings and detect potential intruders. One camera has license plate detection methodology integrated that complements four microphones, navigation equipment and weather sensors that can detect changes in pressure and temperature. The robots are unarmed, for now, and they report trouble to a nearby command center.
“This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application,” Knightscope co-founder Stacy Stephens told the MIT Review. It is unclear, however, what more “strategic and monotonous” tasks the security guards are now freed to do, or if the robots simply replace humans. Knightscope advertises the product as a cost-effective alternative to human security guards, costing half of the $13.24 per hour paid to a human, the company claims. Unlike humans, the K5 doesn’t need sleep, take off holidays or complain about the boss and work conditions. The K5 can run for 24 hours on a single charge and only takes 15 to 20 minutes to re-charge their batteries and navigate themselves back to the charging station when they’re running low.
Microsoft’s Knightscope security
The K5 product is technically called an “autonomous data machine” by Knightscope, with a “commanding but friendly physical presence.”
“If you step in front of the K5, or otherwise interfere with it, it will gently warn you with some chimes — but if you don’t move, an ‘ear-piercing alarm’ is triggered,” the MIT Review report noted.
If a human needs help from another human, finding itself in harm’s way, it can press a button on top of the K5 unit and the robot will communicate back to headquarters. It is unclear how easy it would be to top a robot over, or if this could become a trend among thrill seekers.