Knightscope's K5 security robot

Knightscope team at PlugandPlay2013

If there’s a robot out there that will pave the way to protect and serve the public, Knightscope’s K5 will be the one.  Inspired by recent school shootings, founders William Sanata Li and Stacy Stephens sought to create new ways to improve security.  Founded in early 2013, they had their first prototype by December and have been receiving accolades since.  They recently received the “Hottest Company” award by PlugandPlay for March 2014 and closed a Million Dollar seed round according to Angel List.  

Everyone wants their neighborhoods and places of business to be safe.  The obvious solution is to put another Police Officer on the ground, but trained security officers are a limited and typically expensive resource.  A fixed camera is a solution, but those have a limited ability and typically no sensors on board.  It’s kind of like looking at the world through a straw, you often don’t get the whole picture.  The K5 can gather real time meta data using a variety of sensors, continually receiving information whether it be in a industrial, corporate, school, or shopping mall setting.  They also intend use predictive analytics with existing public data sets, warning of a potential threat.  There is also image and gesture recognition, such as when someone is waving a gun, it can send out an alert, record video, and use its text to speech capability, to keep officers out of harm’s way while still interacting with the event.  Beta testing will begin later this year on two Silicon Valley corporate campuses, so be on the lookout.  The real key is to focus on human robot interaction so that it is seen more like a benevolent protector and less like Big Brother.  Social engagement is key and they want passerby’s to interact with it asking for directions or the weather.  

While Knightscope is categorizing itself as a security company, rather than a robotics company, the blend of both human and robotic cooperation is what will allow them to succeed.  You can listen to CEO William Santana Li talk about the K5 at the recent Launch Festival in San Francisco.

Photo credits:  Knightscope

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