back to article Behold, says robo-mall-cop maker: Our crime-busting dune buggy packed with spy gear

In a modest industrial building in Mountain View, California, on Tuesday, security startup Knightscope unveiled the latest additions to its line of "crime-fighting robots" – the K1, a stationary weapon detector, and the K7, a sensor-laden dune buggy for challenging terrain. The upstart's earlier models, the K3 and the K5, can …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bothering the homeless...

    ...rather than the billionaire tax dodging 1%.

    So go after the victims, not the cause.

    Way to go K9 robot....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bothering the homeless...

      So if the robots turn on our financial overlords, vexing them like nobody's business, will you be happy? Or does wealth inequality require harsher measures in your world?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Bothering the homeless...

        Or does wealth inequality require harsher measures in your world?

        I could imagine robots programmed to follow them (the 1%) around in droves looking for a handout.

        ...Damn, there (programmers) go putting another hardworking group out of work, and this time it's beggars

        Come to think of it, most celebs are pretty used to being followed around and harassed by tabloids anyway...

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Bothering the homeless...

        IIRC the vast majority of the cost of crime (in money terms) is from financial/white collar crime (embezzling, insider trading, falsifying accounts etc.) so it would make sense to concentrate crime-fighting resources in the financial sector.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bothering the homeless...

        Shotguns, we definitely need more shotguns.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bothering the homeless...

      I wonder how well they work after a can of black spray paint is applied to their cameras?

      Until they become armed themselves, I am sure a large crowbar or loaded shotgun would also remain a challenge. Fun, fun, fun..... Welcome to Dystopia!

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

    First one to hack the security bot or turret with their Multitool whilst wearing a long black coat and augmented glasses wins the internet.

    1. Haku

      Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

      Either that or Gene Simmons is going to start populating robots with evil red-tagged chips that make them attack people, thankfully Tom Selleck is still in the law enforcement business (Blue Bloods) so we'll be safe.

      If you're wondering what the hell I've been smoking, you've obviously not seen Runaway (1984) imdb.com/title/tt0088024/ (trailer youtube.com/watch?v=zCZY9Z6WvSY)

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

        Although I think the K7 is rather bigger but less agile than the spiderbots.

        But it's probably only a matter of time until they all get equipped with the heat seeking bullets.

        Yes, I remember that film too ;-)

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

        f you're wondering what the hell I've been smoking, you've obviously not seen Runaway (1984)

        I slept through it seen it, and I'm still wondering whether you are on drugs....

      3. 's water music Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

        If you're wondering what the hell I've been smoking, you've obviously not seen Runaway (1984)

        Kirsty Alley when she was still hot (0:48 in the trailer since you ask)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

          Looks more like a Portal sentry bot to me...

          Owowowowow

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

            Looks more like an expsnsive Porta-Potty to me.

      4. WereWoof

        Re: It's all becoming very "Deus Ex"

        Or alternatively, Chopping Mall : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090837/?ref_=nv_sr_1

    2. HungryMan

      I am seeing a lot of potential here...

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/01/bofh_2010_episode_11/

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Consequences

    Is the mobile K7 autonomous in any way or is it driven and steered by a remote operator? I'm wondering what would happen if a K7 chased down and injured a trespasser by physical contact.

  4. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    in the wild - definitely the right term!

    "Knightscope hopes to have 100 machines in the wild – if you can apply that term to malls, parking lots, and warehouses – by the end of the year."

    Having seen the ferals that inhabit my local Shopping mall - "in the wild" is definitely the right term...

    1. W4YBO

      Re: in the wild - definitely the right term!

      "Having seen the ferals that inhabit my local Shopping mall - "in the wild" is definitely the right term..."

      Oh, leave the teenagers alone. They usually get better with age.

  5. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    "And our long-term ambition is to literally be able to make the United States the safest country in the world"

    Then you need those weapon detecting robots everywhere, not just airports.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Then you need those weapon detecting robots everywhere, not just airports.

      Presumably to detect anyone who doesn't have a gun and dispense one.

  6. Lee D Silver badge

    I'm waiting for the first time someone bundles one of these things into the back of a van (presumably GPS-shielded) and then strips it for parts. Even Robocop didn't escape that fate.

    More seriously, I honestly wonder about the liability issues. If that thing falls over / drives over someone, then presumably the robot company pays the bill. "We're only paying for their services, we don't own the robot" is indeed the best thing at that point. Their problem, not ours.

    It does make me wonder why you can't just hire a guy for less than $60,000 to do the same job, though.

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      It does make me wonder why you can't just hire a guy for less than $60,000 to do the same job, though.

      Because you can't hire one guy to do that work.

      8h shifts, you need 3 guys to do a day. Add in weekends and holiday cover and you probably need 5 people minimum. I doubt you'd get many braincells in your meat robot for $12,000/year.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        But will catch your meat robot wagging off and lazing around in the pool? Seems Metal Mickey did just that.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Sounds like a pretty smart business model for California.

    Eliminate slightly skilled but essentially minimum wage job. Check

    Protect richer people from poorer. Check

    Limited functionality to solve a well defined need with high probability of success. Check.

    Don't let customers play with them by programming them (IE the IBM mainframe model). Check.

    They should go far, if one of the 'bots doesn't go all "Runaway" on someone.

    Wheather or not they should go far in an ideal world is another matter.

    1. annodomini2
      Terminator

      Re: Sounds like a pretty smart business model for California.

      Person not holding weapon.

      Bot: "Drop the weapon! You have 5 seconds to comply!"

      Person not holding weapon "I don't have a weapon!"

      Bot: "BRRRRR...!"

      Dead body

  8. hplasm Silver badge
    Joke

    Finally-

    A proper target for all those guns...

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    Maybe

    If they are so worried about trillion dollar negative impact of crime in the US and want to make US safer then maybe ....

    Make criminal justice system and post release process more about rehabilitation, when ex cons struggle to get a legit job, afford accommodation then going back to crime often seems the only option

    Decriminalize a few commonly used drugs (kudos at least part way there in some states) to stop people getting criminal record for "crimes" that are almost based on a coin toss e.g. alcohol = OK, weed = crim

    Have to add (just to get a few commentards frothing) - do something about the US gun laws, in the UK it is harder to legally get guns and various types of gun very difficult / impossible to get for personal use (plus a whole lot of sensible rules on how they are carried in "public"). Unsurprisingly gun crime deaths are low - yes we get violent crome (e.g. knives) but its a damn sight harder for someone to kill lots of people with a knife, close up than with an automatic at distance

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      trillion dollar negative impact

      It's only negative for one half of the deal, to the party it's a one trillion $ opportunity of equipment and services to supply

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      Other solution: Legalise theft and robbery for people who declare their income and pay taxes. Just think what this trillion dollar business would do for the budget - with the side effect of reducing the costs policing, the criminal justice system and prisons.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        If you legalise it then productivity would drop to national average.

        The nice thing about illegal activity is that it's amazingly productive.

        The amount we spend on marketing compared to drug dealers is ridiculous

      2. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: Maybe

        The US already has, see their civil asset forfeiture system

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/23/cops-took-more-stuff-from-people-than-burglars-did-last-year/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Most of that trillion dollars will be cyber-crime, drugs and political corruption anyway. Unless the robot can backtrace an IP address or manage a sting operation, it will just get more people arrested for vagrancy, B&E, public urination and other petty crimes. Perhaps that is the intention.

      I wonder how much piss it takes to short out the K7? That would make a seriously good Youtube video.

  10. jake Silver badge

    Limited growth company.

    Limited in that there are only a few people daft enough to buy into this nonsense. I mean, how many folks with enough money are swayed by the "Oooh! Shiny!" argument?

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Limited growth company.

      @ Jake

      I suspect you're wrong.

      the target market is those paying (what they see as) too much money for several grunts to stand around doing the same thing.

      It's a "self service fast food booth", only instead of replacing the people serving you a burger, it's replacing the people selecting victims for pat-downs and screenings etc

      In a 24 hour period you're likely to be employing 2-6+ people on a shift rotation to do [$job]. or 1-2 of these things stood working 24/7 for a flat rate, with fewer humans required to do the actual searching and checking etc.

      Presumably the screens we see in McDonalds cost more to install than a servers salary, but it's a one time cost. Here, it's rented not owned yes, but it still must be cheaper than employing the relevant number of meatbags to do a similar thing. Remember you don't have to provide holidays/leave, healthcare, HR costs, etc etc etc to a cross between R2D2 and a bin.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Limited growth company.

        I agree with much of what you say ... but renting a toy for $62K/yr that doesn't actually do anything that I can't do with about $4,000 worth of off-the-shelf parts doesn't sound like a serious business plan.

        Also note that you still need the appropriate number of meatbags to handle the miscreant meatbags fingered by the system. Might as well put 'em to work between handling miscreants, no?

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Limited growth company.

          I see where you're coming from. you can stil reduce the overall number of monkeys employed.

          The thing to think about here isn't what this ocmpanty sells now. thye'#re just making sure thye are amongst the first.

          Firstly because they'll hoover up funding, and secondly because in ten years time when *everyone* wants shit like this they will be there, with their decade of experience, existing customers, contacts in law, mistakes already made and learned from, years of R&D etc etc and be ahead of the rest.

          That or they'll go pop shortly. I don't think they will though. right now they're probably in loss-leader territory and burning through those hedge fund and VC dollars, but they have a product, are building a brand and all the things that go with it.

          Basically hoping they are at the front of the queue when either some law enforcement agency, government entity or private company is ready to spend many, many millions on things like this.

          Imagine being at the front of the queue when the TSA, NSA, FBI, or load of police departments decide they need this sort of thing nationwide. Yes. Please.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Limited growth company.

            Personally, I'm not interested in buying into it. And I haven't even touched on it's proprietary nature, which bothers the hell out of me.

            We shall see over the long haul. Might as well have a cold one while we wait.

      2. doke

        Re: Limited growth company.

        Also consider possible future expansions. They could get a daily upload of facial recognition data for known shoplifters from other locations. The human guards will recognize people they personally threw out before, but not ones from other malls or airports. They could also identify people by cell phone bluetooth beacons, wifi client addresses, car license plates, etc. All of that data would be very attractive to a mall. They could sell it to directed advertizers.

  11. M7S

    Some intense dislike by the company of Tom Robinson, or an aversion to high speed roads?

    Looking at the model numbers all I could think of was

    2, 4, 6, 8 Motorway

    And of course in their sequence K-9 for a "robot" is already taken, not by those police units unable to spell properly either.

    http://www.followingthenerd.com/site/wp-content/uploads/Heroes-of-doctor-who-k9-john-leeson-the-time-warriors.jpg

    After all, who puts a laser on a sodding shark.....

    1. Vulch
      Holmes

      Re: Some intense dislike by the company of Tom Robinson, or an aversion to high speed roads?

      On the contrary, "3, 5, 7, 9 double white line"...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Some intense dislike by the company of Tom Robinson, or an aversion to high speed roads?

      TRB ... Strange how some music resonates across the decades, while most deservedly fades into oblivion. It would do today's kids well to give "Power in the Darkness" a good listen. The title track, and the entire album.

      My own K-9s don't need lasers. They have teeth.

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    White hats

    Are not the optimal people to test to destruction, for, hat you need children from age three up to high school age. If there is a way to break it or hack it one of them will find it.

    Kids are not constrained by adult preconception they are far more novel and creative in their destructive processes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

    Time to watch Robocop again.

    1. Buttons

      Re: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

      Just saw it at BFI iMax on Sunday. Quality.

    2. Inspector71

      Re: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

      These days, it more and more resembles a documentary.

      "Think you can outsmart a bullet" - never gets tired.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

        Yes, absolutely:

        http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/foxs-apb-is-the-latest-show-to-misunderstand-robocop.html

  14. TRT Silver badge

    Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

    Knightscope Industries?

    The K177 autonomous vehicle?

    What's next? The Knightscope Industries Two Thousand? The Knightscope Automated Roving Robot?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

      What's next? The Knightscope Industries Two Thousand? The Knightscope Automated Roving Robot?

      I saw where you are going....

      Hell, why not. 'Smart' cars are in.

      ...Actually sod the 'Smart', just give me a 'Cylon eye' for the front of my car.

      ...We'd only end up with Cortana or Siri trying to do an americans concept of an English accent, failing to be droll (and probably ending up screaming racist abuse - thanks Microsoft).

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

        We already have the 'net connected smartphone wristwatch.

      2. wayne 8

        Re: Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

        Why blame Microsoft. Tai was a product of the environment. Self learning working.

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

      Beat me to it!

    3. wayne 8

      Re: Hang on... automated AI vehicles?

      Knightrider.

  15. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Why oh why

    Can't it look like a proper DALEK!

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Why oh why

      Can't it look like a proper DALEK!

      You haven't seen Fiats 'city' cars then....?

    2. wayne 8

      Re: Why oh why

      Just needs a plumber's friend poking out from the top front piece.

      What is it going to do when it detects a concealed weapon? The human may have a license/permit.

      Lock down the immediate area, enclosing innocents in with a potential hostile actor? Now boxed in, with targets.

      Call for and wait for humans to be dispatched from central?

      Multiple threats and your few meat sack units will be overwhelmed.

  16. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Coat

    Knightscope? Not knight industries?

    It doesn't talk to people in a sarcastic way or get transported around in a mobile lab does it?

    Any red lights in the bonnet?

    Is a perm required to operate it remotely, and most importantly does it come in black?

    Mine's the black leather jacket.

  17. ritey

    who needs a wall

    when you have a army of drone cars patrolling the Mexican border. i can see his business idea a mile off.

  18. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    The Pedestrian

    by Ray Bradbury

  19. Cuddles Silver badge

    Is that a nuclear bomb in your pocket?

    "the K1 is a weapon scanner and will eventually be capable of scanning for radiation."

    Because obviously when making a hidden weapon scanner designed to make America the safest country in the world, checking people for radiation is the important thing to look out for.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Is that a nuclear bomb in your pocket?

      That part does raise one's eyebrows... What kind of radiation? Or will it generate it's own such as a radar or x-ray? Or....?

  20. ukgnome Silver badge

    The vision of the future is white goods. There is nothing so scary as a fridge with a blue LED chasing you.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      A vacuum cleaner with a red LED chasing you, with the hose moving like a snake?

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        @frank ly

        O.K. so two scary robots - but there can't be anymore than that right?

        Unless you include the Richard Herring toaster sex robot from AIOTM

        three scary robots! no more

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      There is nothing so scary as a fridge with a blue LED chasing you.

      Until you go down a set of stairs.

      Then it goes from terrifying to f*cking hilarious.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't catch me

    I'm going disguised as a set of steps and a fountain.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up to K7 already. What will K9 look like? ...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Does the K8 come with added front bumpers?

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge
  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the laugh guys

    "....United States the safest country in the world, changing everything for everyone"

    Three letters.

    NRA

    Good luck.

  24. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    ROI?

    Assuming normal wear and tear type maintenance and not the more likely spray paint and knock 'em over, what's the TCO on one of these? More than just putting in a decent CCTV system with the same AI looking at lots of fixed cameras instead of through a few very expensive mobile ones?

    These things seem like a solution looking for a problem.

  25. doke

    Knight Rider reference

    They should have named them the "Knight Industries Roving Robot" (KARR) and "Knight Industries Two Thousand" (KITT), in honor of the 80s tv show Knight Rider. They also need a scanning red led on the front.

  26. psychonaut

    little dune buggy....

    ahh, PUSA....thanks for reminding me ...havent heard this for ages

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbDg7dBwXtI

  27. Knoydart

    Security bot from Wall-e

    When are they going to build a bot that looks like the Wall-e security bot? At least if they can't sell them to corporates, unsuspecting kids will get their parents to buy one for Christmas.

  28. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Where's the BOFH whan you really need him

    This should be featuring ion Friday

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the BOFH whan you really need him

      oooooh someone downvoted a bring on the BOFH comment. You're a brave man, sir!

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