K5, The Autonomous Security Robot, Is Now On The Beat


Working as a security guard can be a dangerous and thankless job. Now Knightscope wants robots to do it for us.

The Mountain View, Calif., startup has been building and testing a robot model known as the K5 for this purpose since 2013, MIT Technology Review reports. Now the robot fleet is advanced enough to patrol Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus.

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At five feet tall and 300 pounds, the K5 is an ambulatory robot with semi-human proportions. Sleek and smooth, it is supposed to look friendly from a distance, but intimidating close up. It doesn’t carry weapons and it can’t hurt people, but it will beep ominously if you try to detain it while sending an alert to a remote monitoring center. (Early models still have a serious vulnerability—push them over and they can’t get up without assistance.)

On the other hand, the K5 can also be a friendly presence. If you need help, you can press a button on the top of the robot’s head to summon a human operator.

“This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application,” Knightscope cofounder and vice president of sales and marketing Stacy Stephens told MIT. (Translation: Low-wage security guards, you’re out of a job. K5 will now escort you from the premises.)

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The robots use Wi-Fi to communicate with one another and with human operators. They include four high-definition cameras on either side of the robot, a license plate recognition camera, four microphones, and a weather sensor.

Stephens did not disclose how much the K5 will cost, but noted that potential customers include security companies, office buildings, and schools. 

Photo of the K5 via KnightScope

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