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Will Crime-Fighting Robots Become a Part of Public Safety?

The K5 Autonomous Security Robot is a crime-fighting robot that patrols, prevents and protects, according to its maker. The machine can also take photos and videos for security purposes.

K5 Knightscope Robot
(TNS) — A white bullet-shaped robot with blue strobe lights roaming around uptown Charlotte is taking photos and videos of people, but it’s only doing it to provide security, the company behind the machine says.

Knightscope deployed its K5 Autonomous Security Robot on April 7 to help guard one of the largest finance companies in the U.S., the California-headquartered security and robotics company said in a news release.

The K5 ASR is a fully autonomous crime-fighting robot with tasks that include patrolling, preventing and protecting, Knightscope spokeswoman Donna Michaels said.

Knightscope can’t name the Charlotte company the K5 ASR is securing because it was deployed on a private campus, Michaels said. Its fleet of security robots is patrolling nationwide in five U.S time zones and has more than 1 million hours of service at health care facilities, corporate campuses, airports, storage facilities, rail and manufacturing plants, she said.

William Santana Li, chairman and CEO of Knightscope, told The Charlotte Observer the K5 ASR is a unique combination of four technologies — autonomous self driving, robotics, artificial intelligence and electric vehicles. The company was founded in 2013. It has worked since to develop the security robot technology, he said.


The K5 ASR assists guards in securing areas by being an additional set of eyes and ears, Li said. The robots have four 360-degree cameras with live-streaming and high-definition video capabilities, GPS, sonar and live audio so guards can speak through them like a mobile public announcement system, he said.

“Think of it as a really interesting tool to give the guards and officers almost superhuman capabilities,” Li said.

The robot weighs 398 pounds, is 5 feet 2 inches and has a maximum speed of 3 mph, according to Knightscope’s website. The K5 ASR’s large size is meant to deter criminal behavior, Li said.

“If I put a police car in front of your home, criminal behavior will change,” he said. “It’s just that psychological effect.”

Potential clients inquire about Knightscope’s autonomous robots — including the K1, K3, K5, K7 and KSOC — after being shown virtual demonstrations, Li said. Clients don’t pay for the robots; they pay for the management of the more than 90 terabytes of data it collects, Michaels said.

Knightscope hosts a Robot Roadshow across the U.S. to give prospective clients an up-close look at its line of autonomous robots. The roadshow hasn’t traveled to North Carolina yet, but is looking to in the near future, Li said.


Those who say Knightscope’s robots are taking jobs away are “incorrect,” Li said. There are not enough officers and guards to continuously protect the hundreds of millions of Americans across 50 states, he said.

“The media and society is like, ‘Oh the robots are coming and they’re going to kill everybody and take everyone’s’ jobs,’” Li said. “That’s funny, but not truthful.”

Law enforcement and private or public security companies can use the K5 ASR and Knightscope robots, Li said.

“Anywhere you would see an officer or guard patrolling is an opportunity for Knightscope to be helpful,” he said.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.