Monday, 24 October 2016
Four... three... two... one... I am now authorised to use physical force. Four... three... two... one... I am now authorised to use physical force. © Knightscope Inc.

STANFORD Shopping Centre in Palo Alto, California, has a new member of security staff which can process 300 license plates a minute, and has high-definition infrared cameras, microphones and detection systems sensitive to the pings of smart phones.

In an egg-shaped vision of things to come, US technology firm Knightscope has designed a robotic security guard, an idea instigated by the fatal shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

Available for rent at a cost of just €6.20 per hour, considerably cheaper than the human alternative, the real-life Robocop is the brainchild of former Dallas police officer Stacy Dean Stephens, who co-founded the company.

The robots are entirely autonomous, constantly streaming information back to Knightscope’s cloud software, or to mobile apps operated by human guards.

They do not currently possess weapons, but have a loud alarm and geo-tagging if backup is required, and can set up different categories of license plate in order to differentiate cars allowed to park at any time from those permitted at certain times or not at all.

The Dalek-style looks were intentional, and Stephens said: “We could [have gone] two ways: friendly, or ominous. But you don’t want to scare everyone and make them not like the tech; you want it to be comforting.

“Everyone likes to take robot selfies.”

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