Showing a rather shocking disregard for the long-term safety of human civilization, Microsoft has become one of the first companies to deploy autonomous robot security guards.
Dubbed the K5, Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus was being policed last week by five of these roughly human-sized 300-pound (136 kg) robots, each equipped with enough cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and alarms that they can replace most human security patrols. Fortunately, despite looking like uncomfortably like a Dalek from the Doctor Who universe, the K5 is not (yet) equipped with a ray gun or any other method for harming or detaining humans.
The K5, built by the Californian company Knightscope, is billed rather euphemistically as an “autonomous data machine” that provides a “commanding but friendly physical presence.” Basically, it’s a security guard on wheels. Inside that rather large casing (it’s 5 foot tall!) there are four high-def cameras facing in each direction, another camera that can do car license plate recognition, four microphones, gentle alarms, blaring sirens, weather sensors, and WiFi connectivity so that each robot can contact HQ if there’s some kind of security breach/situation. For navigating the environment, there’s GPS and “laser scanning” (LIDAR I guess). And of course, at the heart of each K5 is a computer running artificial intelligence software that integrates all of that data and tries to make intelligent inferences — like,should I tell HQ about that large gathering of teenagers, or should that man be climbing in through that window?