Robots That Can Detect Guns

Robots That Can Detect Guns
Photo from mashable.com.web photo

You know all those futuristic movies where humans are policed by robots that monitor everything we do? We’re getting there, and one company wants to build droids that can detect firearms.

This story from bearingarms.com says a Mountain View startup company called Knightscope currently has a line of Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs) capable of taking 360-degree HD video, detecting physical presence, and recognizing license plates and faces.

The company’s prime ADM, called the K5 and looking a lot like a more egg-shaped, sinister R2D2, can broadcast and has sophisticated monitoring capabilities designed to keep public spaces, like malls, offices, and sports arenas monitored for crime as they rove about halls and corridors. While doing that, they upload what they "see" with HD cameras and low-light infrared cameras, along with a built in microphone that can be used to communicate with passers-by, to a backend security network.

They can also pick up on activities like breaking glass and send an alert to the system.

This story from Techcrunch.com says malls and offices are already using the K5 as security assistants.

“What started as an idea to build a predictive network of using robots for crime prevention by Stacey Dean Stephens, a former law enforcement agent, and his co-founder, William Li, has taken a sharp left turn across law-abiding citizens’ right to carry.”

The story goes on to say that Knightscope is seeking funding to equip the ADMs with the ability to detect guns.

Robots That Can Detect Guns
The K5 near some people for size reference. photo from slate.comweb photo

“We are all tired of waking up every morning to see a new horrific event on our news feeds. No number of 'thoughts and prayers' is going to solve the problem,” the company says. “Our team wakes up every morning with a singular focus and chance to do something about it—and we have and will continue to put our blood, sweat, and tears into the effort of better protecting our country and keeping our communities safe. No matter what it takes.”

That’s some fervent rhetoric.

The company has already received nearly $12 million from companies like Konica Minolta for the idea.

The concern becomes, how can the robot tell the difference between a legal concealed carry permit holder, or even an off-duty or undercover law enforcement officer, from a bad actor with a gun? Well, it can’t. Therein lies the potential danger to our Second Amendment rights, the story says. And with technology like the K5 only becoming more prevalent in our society, it’s a valid concern.

Currently Knightscope rents each five-foot, 300-pound K5 unit for $6.25 an hour, less than paying a security guard minimum wage.

It appears there are still some kinks to work out, as the Huffington Post reports one of the contraptions ran over a toddler at a mall in California back in July, injuring his foot.

"Sixteen-month-old Harwin Cheng suffered a swollen foot and several scrapes in the scary encounter at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto."

"'The robot hit my son’s head and he fell down — facing down on the floor — and the robot did not stop and it kept moving forward,' Harwin’s mom, Tiffany Teng, told ABC 7."

"Teng said that the robot would have run over her son’s other foot had her husband not pulled the boy away."