Microsoft has recently deployed a fleet of 5-feet-tall, 300-pound robots to protect its Silicon Valley campus. These robots includes 360 degree HD security cameras and sensors to monitor the surroundings. The K5 robots come from a California company called Knightscope. It packs lots of capabilities, for example, It can also read license plates and cross-reference them to see if they’re stolen.
The purpose of the K5, like most robots, is straightforward: To replace expensive human workers. The K5 can run for around 24 hours on a single battery charge, automatically navigates back to the charging point when it’s running low, and only takes 15-20 minutes to recharge. Obviously, in the long run, this is cheaper and more efficient than a human security guard — plus, as technology improves, the K5 will probably be more vigilant and capable of spotting smaller discrepancies than a human. In theory, because of the lower cost, you could also field lots of K5 robots, reducing the number of potential holes in security coverage.
Microsoft today sent an update that they have not deployed robots on our SVC campus. These were robots that were being shown as part of a demo at a conference that took place on Microsoft’s campus, not being deployed by Microsoft.
On November 5 on our Silicon Valley Campus, we hosted Tech in Motion Silicon Valley for its event called ‘Rise of the Robots.’ They showed off interesting use-case scenarios from educational purposes and personal assistants to crime fighting.
We have seen a lot of excitement from news media, especially for Knightscope, a company that develops technology to predict and prevent crime through a combination of large-scale robotics, predictive analytics and social engagement. In our parking lot, they demonstrated their Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine, a security robot that provides a commanding but friendly physical presence for onsite security.
Unfortunately, some media were so excited about the technology that they misinterpreted the story. At Microsoft, we love robots of all shapes and sizes. However, we do not have robots providing security on our campus.