Back in 2003, former Ford executive William Santana Li and former police officer Stacey Dean founded Carbon Motors, a company that designed a purpose-built diesel police car that recently filed for bankruptcy. But they're at it again, this time with a new company and a new invention that looks eerily similar to R2D2: a robotic security guard.

Their new Sunnyvale, California-based company is called Knightscope. Its product: the K5 Autonomous Data Machine. It's the fruit of the company's development of "technology that will predict and prevent crime with an innovative combination of hardware, software and social engagement," according to its website. K5 will be equipped with infrared-capable video cameras, microphones, radar, lidar (laser-based "radar") and thermal, air-quality and ultrasonic sensors. The data collected from all that equipment is then processed by the company's predictive analytics engine with help from "business, government and crowdsourced data sets." In a nutshell, K5 was designed to predict and prevent crime.

According to a report by The New York Times, Li says, "We founded Knightscope after what happened at Sandy Hook... You are never going to have an armed officer in every school." K5 can patrol school hallways as well as Silicon Valley businesses, and there are countless other potential applications for the robot. While there are positives to a robot like the K5, its invasive nature and sensing capabilities have already spurred privacy advocates to speak out against it.

Marc Rotenburg, director of the Electronic Privacy and Information Center, likened it to "R2D2's evil twin," according to The Times. "There is a big difference between having a device like this on your private property and in a public space," he said, adding, "Once you enter public space and collect images and sound recordings, you have entered another realm."

Head below to watch a promotional video on the K5, which is being unveiled at this week's Plug and Play Winter Expo in Sunnyvale.


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  • 65 Comments
      midwest9040
      • 1 Year Ago
      "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"
      d
      • 1 Year Ago
      Have I woken to some alternate reality. This world doesn't even seem real anymore. It's like everything going on is one big joke. This company didn't seriously design a robot that looks just like the crazy human killing robots from movies and TV. Why not just call it the Dalek. At least have it say EXTERMINATE when it sees a threat. Drones launched from submarines, robots watching your kids, soon to be required car driving monitors, idiots that think they only got a speeding ticket because they were wearing a heads up display. This is how freedom is lost. Welcome to 1984. A parent can't even walk into a school anymore in some places. The world has lost its damn mind.
      Badco
      • 1 Year Ago
      DESTROY!! DESTROY!! DESTROY!!
      Muttons
      • 1 Year Ago
      I, for one, welcome our new Dalek overlords.
      kipswork
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looking at that thing reminds me of something….I really should start grinding my own coffee beans again.
      Egon
      • 1 Year Ago
      "We founded Knightscope after what happened at Sandy Hook..." Riiiiiight. More like "we were sitting in front of the TV crying into our pints of Ben & Jerrys after the implosion of Carbon Motors, when all of a sudden somebody started shooting up an elementary school and we decided to try to cash in on the frenzy".
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now all they need is more investors to steal money from. Life is nice at the top.
      IBx27
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's not April 1st, but it feels like 1984.
      robbversion1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Screw that. Lets just get some ED-209s. "You have 5 seconds to comply!"
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      We have high unemployment with people sitting at home doing nothing and placing a burden on society that has to feed and shelter them, and yet we pretend like there's no workforce out there that can do a job like this and we need to be taxed for expensive and useless robots... Being a security guard is not rocket science, and you can train basic proficiency for an armed guard in a week long course, and for each one you not only make the person productive but stop paying someone to do nothing.
        anon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        But you have to pay a salary and benefits and they have to take meal and bathroom breaks......humans are just so inefficient and not profitable................hey it\'s the corporate way.
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        Except they would do no background check on these guards, and we would just hire a bunch of pedophiles. I agree, there are a lot of people sitting at home on their ass that could be contributing to this.
          Bernard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @m_2012
          Good point about background checks. The last thing we need is armed guards shooting up schools because they missed a dose of schizophrenia meds and the electric wires are talking to them.
      jonnybimmer
      • 1 Year Ago
      Danger Will Roberson! Seriously though, why not add regular security cameras? You know what could do the exact same job as the robot in the image with the bus? A camera or two installed above the door on the bus, job done. The robots are WAY more expensive, need to be maintained, use more energy, can get in the way, easily damaged, etc. They're just an overpriced, complicated alternative to a security camera. It'd be better just to hire a security guard.
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jonnybimmer
        No- you know what could do a much better job- educated kids that know their surroundings. If it's a bad area, a parent or two keeping an eye on the bus stop. We do NOT need more cameras recording our every move.
      Egon
      • 1 Year Ago
      I call BS on the whole thing. The photo of the off-roading autonomous data machine in particular. But beyond that, there wasn't a single authentic thing in the 1-minute promo video. The screenshots were nonsense and the rest was total crap. At least the Carbon Motors money grab had a shred of authenticity. For this vaporware scam, they didn't even put in a decent effort.
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