Makers of security robots have it tough. They're packaging the bumbling earnestness of mall cops with still-imperfect capabilities like autonomous navigation and human-machine interaction.
That's led to some high profile goofs, including the now-infamous suicide of a K5 unit at a Washington D.C. office building.
But there's growing demand for security robots in a number of sectors, as evidenced by the debut of two new security units from Knightscope, which manufactures the K5.
One of the bots, the K7, is ten feet long and can patrol difficult terrain, such as gravel and dirt.
The other, the K1, is a stationary unit capable of detecting concealed weapons and other metal objects using millimeter-wave sensors.
The new robots point to the specialization of security needs. The K1 is meant to live in places of ingress to sensitive areas, such as hospitals, baggage claim, and event centers.
The millimeter wave sensors it uses are similar to those found in newer airport scanners, the type that require you to raise your hands.
The K7, which looks like a scaled down futuristic car, is designed for clients that have to patrol large outdoor facilities. These include utilities companies, gas distribution centers, and airports.
The robot has holonomic steering, which means all four wheels are steerable, allowing it to maneuver in tight spaces. Its size also allows for an expandable sensor package.
Both units are expected to receive additional sensors down the road, such as pathogen or radiation sensors.
Like the K5, Knightscope says these units are supplemental to standard human security measures. In essence, they're roving detection units that can sound an alarm and give security personnel more eyes on the ground. None of the units is capable of apprehending a person.
Knightscope is following a trend in robotics of selling services rather than hardware. It leases its K5 security robot for about seven dollars per hour, a price that's designed to appeal to companies currently paying a person minimum wage to patrol the halls.