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California company builds 5-foot android robocops to control crime-ridden areas

The local neighborhood watch may be beefing up its robotic arsenal if a new technology startup gets its way anytime soon.In a bid to make local communities safer and give local law  enforcement agencies more tools to fight crime, California-based  Knightscope recently unveiled a line of K5 robots that it  believes will “predict and prevent crime with an innovative  combination of hardware, software and social engagement.”

The new K5 units have a look that resembles R2-D2 from “Star  Wars,” but their casual design masks a highly advanced robot that  its creators hope will drastically cut down on crime. Weighing in  at 300 pounds, the five-foot K5 can patrol a neighborhood and  uses a built-in laser to form a 3D map of the surrounding area in  270-degree sweeps. Four built-in cameras, meanwhile, are capable  of scanning up to 1,500 license plates a minute.


“Data collected through these sensors is processed through  our predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business,  government and crowdsourced social data sets, and subsequently  assigned an alert level that determines when the community and  the authorities should be notified of a concern,” the  company’s website states.

According to Fox News, Knightscope already has multiple clients  lined up to test beta versions of the K5 in 2014. Rather than  sell the robots outright, the company will charge $1,000 a month  for daily eight-hour shifts. Inspired to take action after 20  children were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School  massacre, Knightscope CEO William Li is convinced that innovation  in law enforcement is necessary to effectively make use of  officers’ time and manpower.

“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,” he told USA Today. “If we can  do that, I think every mayor will be calling us.”


That prospect doesn’t sound comforting to everyone, however,  especially civil liberties advocates wary of warrantless  surveillance in light of the domestic spying done by the National  Security Agency.

“Clearly, this kind of surveillance technology has an  unbounded capacity to collect personal information that a single  patrol officer doesn’t,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director  of the watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center, said  to USA Today.

“These are the same concerns we’re facing with CCTV  (closed-circuit television) and Google’s mapping cars. Laws need  to be updated to acknowledge these technologies, and companies,  in turn, need to act responsibly.”

One such law is currently being considered in California,  where a recently introduced bill would impose restrictions on the  use of surveillance drones. The proposal would ban the use of  unmanned aerial drones in the state without a court-issued  warrant, potentially calming concerns that government agencies  could abuse the technology.

As RT reported last week, a study by the Electronic  Frontier Foundation found predator drones flew over 700 missions  between 2010 and 2012 on behalf of numerous agencies, including  local law enforcement. Cattle rancher Rodney Brossart of North  Dakota became the first American to be arrested with the help of  a drone back in 2011. He was just recently sentenced to three and  a half years in prison for terrorizing local police, though his  attorney argued the drone was dispatched without a warrant.



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  1. […] physicist was among over 1,000 artificial intelligence experts who signed an open letter about the weaponization of robots and the ongoing “military artificial intelligence arms race” among the world’s military […]

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