Robots: Security force of the future?

U.S. & World

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A new fleet of robots has hit the streets of New York.

Their goal is to keep the streets safer.

But some people see these machines and immediately worry about privacy concerns.

The robots use the same technology as a self-driving car to patrol sidewalks

“This is a crazy combination of artificial intelligence, self-driving autonomous technology, robotics, analytics in something that is actually useful for society,” said Knightscope CEO William Santana Li.

The company has built its three robot models in the United States and is introducing them to customers inside a new showroom in Manhattan.

“I thought it was pretty cool but I didn’t really think much of it. I didn’t even know what it was. I thought the thing was just patrolling around,” Connie Ruan said.

They’re also deployed at Laguardia Airport. 

Each robot has five security cameras, four of which helps it see things. The fifth camera collects thermal imaging data. 

All of that information going into an internet-based portal helps local security forces on the ground.

“You can’t just keep adding more people, ‘oh and we’re going to keep adding more vehicles or officers.’ It’s not going to happen. Society literally can’t afford this,” Santana Li said.

The robots are able to observe people walking on sidewalks, record license plate numbers, detect the heat in objects and see which cell phone serial number are within a designated patrolling area. 

Knightscope said the data is secure and only seen by the agency controlling the robot. 

They can stop it and tell it what to look for. 

Of course, there are privacy concerns.

“People could just like reboot it or something,” said Jose Rodriguez.

Christine Ng, a Brooklyn resident, said: “I think this place needs security.”

Li grew up in Queens and says the 9/11 attacks began his thinking about how to improve security across the country. 

“I’m still really really upset about it…we’re starving for new technology to try and alleviate the problem,” Li said.

From city streets to corporate campuses, Li says the security team of the future has helped agencies catch an accused sexual predator, robbery suspect and vandal in the act.

The company says it costs between $6 and $12 an hour for a new robot to hit the streets.

The robots are already fighting crime alongside security teams in 16 states. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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