IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Beware, Criminals: Robo Mall Cop to Patrol Silicon Valley

<p>The next security guard you see could be a robot.</p>
K5 robot from Knightscope

Forget mall cops. In the future, it could be robots telling unruly teens to stop loitering in front of Sbarro.

Meet the K5, from Knightscope. You might remember it from when it was helping drivers find empty parking spaces. Now it’s getting a promotion to security guard — and it will begin its first shift on two Silicon Valley corporate campuses next month.

No, it’s not going to mete out justice like RoboCop. Instead, the camera- and sensor-laden robot, which roams around on wheels, will alert a security team if anything seems out of the ordinary. That allows human security staffers to watch events unfold in real-time and take control of the otherwise autonomous robot if they need a better angle on some suspicious activity. The robot — which is 5 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds — can also act as a crime deterrent.

“Having a robot that is moving around gets the attention of people,” Stacy Stephens, a former police officer and marketing chief at Knightscope, told NBC News. “It’s no different than if you park a patrol car on the side of the highway and it gets people to slow down.”

Stephens wouldn't say which companies were employing the robot.

Unlike security guards, K5 doesn’t get tired or bored while patrolling an area. Plus,“hiring” the robot in eight-hour shifts will only cost companies $4.10 an hour.

That lets human security personnel focus on responding to emergencies, instead of wasting their energy by walking around when nothing is happening, Stephens said.

The K5 has the ability to record video and sound, identify license plates, record infrared and temperature information, and even create 3-D maps of its surroundings. Of course, that prompts questions about privacy.

“We fully acknowledge that people have concerns about it,” Stephens said, “but we think people have greater concerns about being shot or blown up in public.”