Robot security guards now patrolling Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus

A California company is hoping to revolutionize the security business with autonomous robots. The Knightscope K5 is a drone now patrolling Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus.

Science columnist Matt Stambaugh says drones look like Roombas seeking criminals instead of dust bunnies

The Knightscope K5 is a robot security guard currently patrolling Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus. (Knightscope Inc.)

A California company is hoping to revolutionize the security business with autonomous robots.

The Knightscope K5 is one of four drones now patrolling Microsoft's Silicon Valley Campus.

Matt Stambaugh, the Calgary Eyeopener's science and technology columnist, spoke about how the five feet tall robots learn.

"You take them to an area, apparently an operator has to walk around the perimeter where they're supposed to patrol once, then they go about learning their environments," said Stambaugh. "What they're using is a variety of different sensors essentially to take the role of what a lot of private security contractors do today."

According to Stambaugh, the robots are capable of detecting anomalies and making decisions.

"It's not quite as advanced as what Google is doing with their self-driving car, but they've got different sensors on board to make a map of the area and then they've got code on board to decide what is something that should be reported back."

"They've got thermal imaging if you need. They've got chemical sensors, licence plate recognition software [and] facial recognition software," said Stambaugh. "It looks kind of like a large Roomba. And so instead of looking for dust bunnies it's looking for, you know, criminals."

K5s to hit the market in 2015

According to Stambaugh, the robots will be hitting the market starting 2015.

"What the company Knightscope is trying to do is to lease these out on a per-hour basis," said Stambaugh. "So $6.25 an hour they'll lease you one of these K5s and that's about half the price of the average security guard."

There are many advantages to a robot over a human patrol. 

"They'll work triple shift, 24 hours a day. The battery is supposed to last around a day and when it runs out they go back to a charging carpet and in 20 minutes they are charged up again."

Stambaugh also said the robots do not have any weapons, but that may change in the future.

"Basically what it's doing is calling back to a manned response centre if something is going wrong," he said.


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