Communities, he dreams, will take security into their own hands by investing in wheeled machines that patrol streets, sidewalks and schools — instantly alerting residents via a mobile app of intruders or criminal behavior.
His question is like many posed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs seeking to modernize, privatize and monetize services once entrusted to the government — and it’s one that has intrigued venture capitalists who have pumped $14 million into his start-up.
Already, Knightscope robots are edging into the private security industry, patrolling parking lots, a shopping center and corporate campuses in California. The company’s ambitions, though, are much bigger.
Knightscope manufactures two robots — the five-foot tall K5 and the four-foot K3. Both weigh a hefty 300 pounds (they were designed to make it hard to tip over). Customers such as the Stanford Shopping Center, Qualcomm and Uber rent them starting at about $7 an hour (Knightscope, based in Mountain View, Calif., charges more if companies want extra services, such as more than two weeks of data storage).
The robots — which resemble a cross between R2D2 and a Dalek from “Doctor Who” — can record, stream, send and store video; provide thermal imaging; read license plates; track parked cars; serve as a two-way intercom; play a pre-recorded message; and detect humans in places they’re not supposed to be.