Robots make compliant workers. They need mechanics, not sick days or human resource managers. They never demand fair working conditions, or legal protections, or strike if those needs aren’t met. Ride-coordinating service Uber is investing heavily in the development of autonomous cars to replace human drivers with robots. That technology is still a ways off, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put robots to work right away, as security guards.
The robot is a K5, a 300-pound security robot made by Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope. It’s a stand-in for a human security guard. Stacy Stephens, Knightscope’s VP of marketing, says Uber is a recent customer of the company.
The robot has apparently patrolled an Uber inspection lot in San Francisco, possibly as a technology demonstration that could lead to a long-term contract.
The robots are rented two at a time, with one charging while the other patrols. The cost is $7 an hour, Stephens told Fusion.
Branded “Autonomous Data Machines” by Knightscope, the robot guards are mostly sensors on wheels, driving around a designated area. The video they record, with infrared or regular cameras, can be streamed to a remote human observer, so there’s always a person who knows what is happening. Especially relevant for a robot guarding a parking lot, the Knightscope machines can even read license plate numbers.
While it’s hard to imagine such a robot physically stopping a determined criminal, the information recorded by any security robot would likely aid a legal case against them.
Watch a bizarrely James Bond-themed video about the Knightscope robots below: