Knightscope K3: The Autonomous Robotic Security Guard


January 6, 2017

A robotic security force is hardly a new idea, but until recently, there has not been a successful real-world example to point to. In the heart of Silicon Valley, some tech developers are now protected by the 300lb autonomous robotic security guards known as the Knightscope K3. The most impressive aspect of the K3 is not that it exists but how diverse its capabilities are. Considering how new this technology is, the K3 is very advanced and Knightscope has structured their business model in a way that encourages further innovation and development without disrupting their client-base.


Robots as a Security Force


Before we go any further, it is important to point out that the Knightscope K3 does not have any weapons. It is on-site to exclusively observe and report. Instead of actually using force to provide security, K3 provides the appearance and presence of an authority figure. Much like retail stores who hang fake security cameras or post signs indicating that a room is under video surveillance, the mere threat of authority is often enough to discourage any illegal activity. While cameras are one thing, having the commanding presence of a 300lb security droid is certain to give some troublemakers pause.


Value of the Knightscope


  • Advanced Anomaly Detection: With sensors and analytics, the K3 can identify curious human behavior and request that a human guard investigate the situation.


  • Gun Detection (Future Feature): The K3 website lists a “Gun Detection Feature” is coming soon. Based on implications made in other videos on the K3, the droid will be able to identify guests with weaponry and notify authorities.


  • Autonomous Presence: The K3 can automatically and autonomously navigate its way through complex areas, thereby replacing the need for the guard staff to perform regular patrols.


  • Forensic Capabilities: Night vision, infrared vision, weather data as well as biological chemical and radiation detection are all available in the K3. Furthermore, the droid can also scan and search license plate records if patrolling a parking lot.


  • Mic Array: The K3 is fitted with 16 microphones and intelligence to capture and recognize events happening in the proximity of the K3.


  • Live 360 Degree Video Streaming: Video feeds can be recorded and viewed at any time.


The Business Model


The business model of Knightscope is not as you might expect. Instead of boxing up their droids and selling them for a few thousand dollars, Knightscope offers their product as a service. Clients rent the robots to patrol their property for trouble. Better yet, each droid can be employed for less than minimum wage.

This business model is important, because it helps keep Knightscope agile. Technologies advance rapidly, and this is particularly true for emerging technologies. If the K3 was sold directly to clients, it would be out of date within a year or two, and clients would be reluctant to purchase upgrades. The upfront cost and refresh rates of the tech would discourage rapid innovation and slow the development of the solution. By remaining as a service company, Knightscope can roll out updates or new models without leaving their clients with outdated, 300lb robots.

In addition, Knightscope wants to position their droids as a way to augment their client’s existing security solution instead of as a full replacement. The K3 provides an enormous amount of data, visibility, and surveillance for the security team. By keeping the guards informed, they can perform their jobs much more effectively.


Not Just Rumba with a Camera


The most impressive aspect of Knightscope is its wide array of tools and sensors. If we were expecting our first robotic security guards to be little more than a Rumba with a camera, we were wrong. The K3 is not just a mobile security camera. It is packed with environmental sensors and intelligence, and Knightscope already has big plans for the future. On their website, they list “Watson Integration” as an upcoming feature. By involving the world’s most powerful AI with the K3, robotic security guards may become a common sight in the next decade.

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