New robot cop can detect weapons, but can it stay dry too?

Commentary: The company whose roaming security robot fell into a fountain last month releases a model that claims to detect not only concealed weapons, but radiation as well.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Does the K1 look like a large electric toothbrush to you?


We've become increasingly incapable of policing ourselves.

So now we're asking the robots to do it. 

The poor robots aren't used to this sort of work. Just last month, a Knightscope security robot fell into a fountain in Washington, DC. Some, naturally, suspected suicide. This wasn't the case, as the robot itself confirmed to me afterward

This hasn't deterred Knightscope. On Tuesday, the company announced an upcoming robot that it claims will offer some very modern abilities.

The K1 is said to be able to do things clients have apparently asked for: detecting radiation and concealed weapons. 

Knightscope said in a statement that K1 will initially be used at airports, hospitals, retailers and other places "with highly sensitive points of ingress/egress requiring a physical presence, but in a stationary form."

The K1 has many of the abilities of its Knightscope brethren. It can livestream its activities -- yes, even a nosedive into water -- as well as read license plates. 

Knightscope CEO William Santana Li offered an almost presidential quote: "We are determined to make the United States of America the safest country in the world, changing everything for everyone."

Yes, but changing everything for everyone for ... the better?

You must decide whether the presence of these robots makes you feel safer or whether you worry they'll lose their electronic minds and accuse you of harboring a grenade in your pocket.

And then shoot you.

Fortunately, Knightscope isn't arming its models.

I was a touch skeptical about what sorts of weapons and radiation the K1 could actually detect. Is this just a robot with a metal detector and a Geiger counter inside? Knightscope's spokesman wouldn't discuss the technology.

"Our initial focus is large firearms and then over time we are hopeful the system will be able to learn about large knives, explosives and small firearms. There is still much work to be done," the spokesman said.

There is, indeed, much work to be done. 

It would be a start if fewer people were allowed to wander around with concealed weapons, but that's just my approach to safety.

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