For half-a-year, the robt wandered the New York City headquarters. Automation wasn’t a complete stranger to the asset manager’s employees. In 2017, the company made a huge bet to rely on algorithms over humans to make selections when buying and selling stocks.
Not interested in finance, the Bot is made by Knightscope, a corporation making crime-fighting robots used in parking lots, sports arenas and Silicon Valley tech campuses.
The Bot’s last email read:
“I know that my first days here were awkward at times,” the note said. “Seeing each other in the hallway, we often wondered – who’s going to move first? But over time, we found ways to get along. Since then, I’ve made many new friends and starred in countless videos.”
The robot is heading to San Francisco offices of Blackrock where its systems will be upgraded and voice/speech modules will be installed.
The robot has roughly 50 siblings in 13 states. It ‘sees’ with lasers which allow it to autonomously patrol its assigned area while taking 360-degree videos. The robot is monitored by a human security guard while the K5 reads 1,200 license plates a minute and roam looking for the bad guys. No bathroom breaks are needed and the K5 doesn’t sneak off to a hidden stairwell for a few moments of shut-eye.
The K5 feels different even though it is used for surveillance. The SPCA deployed a 5-foot-tall, 400-pound version to patrol its campus in San Francisco. Homeless residents charged the robot, threw a tarp over it and knocked it down before smearing BBQ sauce on the robot’s sensors.
“Keep in mind, this concept of privacy in a public space is odd,” said Arkady Bukh, a noted New York City criminal defense attorney. “A person has no expectation of privacy in a public space where these machines are working,” he added.
Still, a wall mounted camera is one thing. A giant camera which may one day roam the streets, is another.
Ubiquitous Yes, But Not As Much As They Will Be
Public use of security-oriented robots is growing. In New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a robot paces the arrivals curb at Terminal B and comes loaded with cameras and security-enhancing sensors.
The robot — named B-3PO — has been roaming the airports’ terminal since February. LaGuardia Gateway Partners keeps the robot within certain areas as it rolls through and sends images to a central command booth.