Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment

A Force Multiplier – An Autonomous Mobile Sensing Device

“The K3 and the K5 we have been operating now over 180,000 hours and over 100,000 hours all across the country helping security guards and security professionals do their jobs more effectively,” said William Santana Li, CEO and Chairman of Knightscope, Inc. These mobile, autonomous data gathering machines, with sensors to measure and record things such as video, audio and thermal, are helping Knightscope’s 32 clients cost-effectively secure their facilities across 8 states.

Operating at eye-level, the Knightscope devices have a better vantage point than traditional ceiling-mounted surveillance cameras and have been effective in identifying criminals. But these crime fighters are about to get some help from some newly announced siblings.

Speaking at Knightscope’s headquarters and factory, Li presented the K1 and  K7. The K1 is a stationary model with optional concealed weapon and radiation detection capabilities, intended to monitor points of entry. The K7, on the other hand, is an autonomous, 4-wheel drive vehicle meant to traverse challenging terrain and, like its more stout siblings, it streams what it senses to the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC).

The K7 is interesting beyond security, as it points to the design freedom one has when a vehicle is electrified and motors are built into the wheels. This combination gives the K7 holonomic steering; in other words, it can spin around in a 360 degree turn. Using standard automobile wheels, which are hidden behind cowlings, the K7 is intended for both dirt and paved roads and is ideal for covering large areas, such as military bases, campuses, farms, utility plants, etc.

With its Nvidia brains and multiple sensors, including LIDAR, it is pretty much an autonomous car without space for people. Knightscope was mum on K7’s speed, although it does use standard vehicle wheels. Like the rest of the product it automatically finds a charging station when it is low on juice. As Li pointed out off-camera, even during charging, these tireless workers are still sensing and reporting on their surrounding environment.

And, like their entire product line, the communications path to the KSOC central command is via WiFi and/or cellular. Li indicated that the Knightscope devices work with all four of the major carriers. He also indicated that its Nvidia GPU processing and Intel I7 processor perform number crunching that minimizes the amount of bandwidth required between device and the KSOC.

With detection features, such as license plate identification, the KSOC can alert operators when there are anomalies, so a human can take an appropriate action. An example of such an action would be to provide a verbal warning to a trespasser. Just having a presence is often enough to be deterrence and has been apparent in some of Knightscope’s current deployments, according to Li.

At $7 per hour, Knightscope’s Machine as a Service model provides its clients with a cost-effective way of augmenting their existing security. Additionally, this model means clients don’t have to worry about keeping up with technology, as that is Knightscope’s responsibility as a service provider.

A further proof-point of the significance of the marketsize for automated mobile security guards was this week’s announcement by Knightscope competitor NXT Robotics of its, “Scorpion 2, all terrain and all-weather, outdoor security robot.” Other companies in the space include SMP Robotics, Cobalt Robotics and < added>Sharp Electronics<10/23/17> . Next week’s ASIS 2017 security conference will be a showcase for this emerging market category.

Knightscope has a laser-like focus on security, so don’t expect them to veer into autonomous vehicles or even licensing of intellectual property or data. Still, if Knightscope can achieve their mission of cutting the huge financial impact of crime in half, not only will their clients benefit, but so will society.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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