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Knightscope Autonomous Data Machine
Developer Knightscope, Inc
Type Robot
Release date 1k5 Prototype: December 5, 2013 (2013-12-05)

Knightscope, Inc. (also known as Knightscope) was founded in 2013, and is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California. The goal of Knightscope is to design, build and deploy Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs), which are used to monitor crimes in malls, parking lots, and neighborhoods.[1][2][3] Knightscope's founders state that they started the company in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and to prevent future crimes.[1][2][3]


Multiple K5 and K3 robots are deployed across the United States. Once deployed, they move at about 3 mph in a geo-fenced area and gather real-time on-site data using their sensors.[citation needed]

The captured data includes the license plates, thermal data, and people's movements. Software onboard the robot determines when to alert the community and authorities about the concern[citation needed].


Knightscope says they hope the ADMs will help security and law enforcement personnel detect trouble while preventing and minimizing public injuries and fatalities.[4] Another goal of Knightscope is to cut down crime rates. The CEO, William Li, said "Our aim is to cut the crime rate by 50% in a geo-fenced area, which would increase housing values and safety while lowering insurance costs."[5]


Knightscope has four different robot models: the K1, K3, K5 and K7.


The K5 model is a bullet-shaped robot that stands about 5 feet tall. It has twin panels of lights about two-thirds of the way up its body. There is also a small silver colored flag of the United States on the left side of its body.[6]. The K5 patrols and charges autonomously and detects crime using a variety of sensors including video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder, radar, air quality sensors and a microphone.

During its autonomous patrol, if the K5 detects abnormal noise and temperature change, or known criminals, it will alert local authorities.[2][3]


The K5 moves at 1 to 3 miles per hour.[7][8] It uses mapping software to create a geo-fenced perimeter that makes it stay within one area.[citation needed] The K5 creates a point cloud to show a 3-D image of the surroundings in the geo-fenced area. The K5 also uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect objects in surroundings and movements of its wheels.[8]

Sensor options[edit]

Optical Character Recognition It scans up to 1,500 license plates per minute. When the K5 detects a license for a known criminal on a "hot list", it will alert the law enforcement force.
Omnidirectional Imaging The K5 has "360-degree high definition video capture".[9]
Microphones The K5 has an ambient noise microphone that can capture audio. The range from 80 to 90 decibels is normal. If the sounds suddenly goes beyond 100 decibels, the K5 will notify the local authorities.[9][10]
Ultrasonic The ultrasonic sensor is used to detect speed and distance when the robot cruises in an area.[9][11]
Cameras The K5 uses the video cameras to collect about 90TB of data per machine annually, and the infrared light can function at night.[9][12]
Lidar LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It emits laser that sweeps 270-degree to measure the objects and map its surrounding area.[7]
Thermal Imaging The thermal imaging sensor detects and measures minute temperature differences. It can detect objects 24 hours a day.[8]


Privacy Issues[edit]

The K5 will be widely used in public places, leading to concerns with privacy. The K5 can take pictures and videos of people without any notification. It can also monitor conversations which has caused concern that social images could be damaged by the robot.[13] Some don't trust the K5's ability to recognize the actual suspects. Jeramie Scott, a national security fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said, “Automated surveillance, facial recognition and license plate recognition in public makes us all suspects. The K5 could become like a cuter, less aggressive Terminator that kills privacy instead of people.”[14]


Some critics wonder whether the K5 will protect them or actually spy on them. They also question the K5's ability to prevent crime. Although it can detect suspicious activities, it can not arrest the criminals or stop an attack. Furthermore, the K5's speed is limited and it only moves on flat ground. In other words, the K5 can not prevent crimes effectively.[15]

Another concern is mass surveillance. Some feel they are under pervasive surveillance if there is a robot watching on them in public space. Marc Rotenberg, President and Executive director of Electronic Privacy Information Center(EPIC), stated that “Once you enter public space and collect images and sound recordings, you have entered another realm. This is the kind of pervasive surveillance that has put people on edge.”[16]


In July 2016, a Knightscope K5 which was deployed at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, CA collided with a 16-month-old toddler, bruising the child's leg and running over the child's foot.[17] The Stanford Shopping center responded by docking all of its K5 units, suspending any further activity by the robots until the incident could be investigated. Knightscope responded, calling the incident an "accident", and issued a formal apology to the family of the child.

In April 2017, a 41-year-old Mountain View man was arrested in connection to an alleged parking-lot altercation with a K5, also at the Stanford Shopping Center.[18]

In July 2017, a Knightscope K5 ADM fell into a water fountain outside an office building in Washington D.C. after allegedly tripping on some steps.[19]

In December 2017, the San Francisco SPCA rented a Knightscope K5 robot to patrol the area next to their building, including the public sidewalk in an attempt to deter vandalism. The SPCA received complaints about using a robot on public sidewalk where homeless people were encamped.[20]


  1. ^ a b "The dawn of a REAL Robocop?". The dawn of a REAL Robocop?. London: Daily Mail. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Markoff, John (29 November 2013). "A Night Watchman With Wheels?". A Night Watchman With Wheels?. New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "300-pound robot is new breed of crime-fighting machine". 300-pound robot is new breed of crime-fighting machine. FOX News. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Knightscope team". Knightscope Team Page. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  5. ^ "California company builds 5-foot android robocops to control crime-ridden areas". RT Question More. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  6. ^ Robinson, James. "Knightscope's new robotic law enforcer is like staring at the demise of humanity". Pandodaily. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b Cava, Marco. "Change Agents: William Li's robot wants to police you". USA Today. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Brandon, John. "5 Uses for the Surveillance Robot of Tomorrow". CIO. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "Knightscope technology". Knightscope, Inc. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Knightscope Selects Segway's RMP220 as a Base Platform for its K5 Autonomous Data Machine to Predict and Prevent Crime". Segway Robotics. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  11. ^ Geek, Uber. "Knightscope – World's First Robotic Security Guard". Wonderful Engineering. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  12. ^ Ingham, Lucy. "RISE OF ROBOCOP: THE AUTONOMOUS ROBOT THAT PREDICTS AND PREVENTS CRIME". Factor. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  13. ^ Taylor, Chris. "The K5 Robot: A Roomba for Crime". Mashable. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  14. ^ Williams, Martyn. "Will this robot make America safer?". PCWorld. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  15. ^ Lasher, Ed. "ROBOCOP IS A CRIME-FIGHTING ROOMBA". FIBE.RS. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  16. ^ Pareek, Shabdita. "The Knightscope K5 robot could replace some security guards". MySecuritySign. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. ^ Wells, Georgia. "Mall Powers Down Security Robots After One Bumps into Toddler". MarketWatch. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  18. ^ Kravetz, David. "Silicon Valley security robot beat up in parking lot, police say". Ars Technica. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  19. ^ Frankel, Todd C (17 July 2017). "A security robot fell into a water fountain at a D.C. office building. And the Internet went wild". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  20. ^ Farivar, Cyrus. "After backlash, animal shelter fires security robot, "effective immediately"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 18 December 2017.