Editor’s Note: Author Mike Oitzman will be moderating panels on “Robotics as a Service: Feasibility and Opportunity” and “Working With Partners to Adopt Robotics” at RoboBusiness 2017 next week in Santa Clara, Calif. Knightscope offers sentry robots in one example of RaaS.
Knightscope Inc. just unveiled two new members of its family of security robots — the stationary K1 and the mobile K7. With a streamlined design and four large wheels, the K7 appears to be ready for the robot races. Criminals will think twice before attempting to outrun this robot, even if its initial speed is limited to 3 kph (1.8 mph).
The K1 security robot is unique in that it’s a stationary platform, designed to be deployed at points of ingress and egress where it can record and watch people as they enter and leave a facility. The K1 will include the capability to detect concealed weapons, and it will be deployed in hospitals, airports, and other sensitive, public facilities. It will also have an optional radiation-detection capability.
Another key feature that Mountain View, Calif.-based Knightscope is working on is audio event detection in the indoor K3 robot. The K3 will be able to discriminate a sound by type, such as footsteps, glass breaking, or gunshots. The robot will also be able to determine sound origin relative to its positions. The K3 robot includes 16 microphones to help it triangulate the location of a sound. This feature will be available in 2018.
More specifications and a discussion of the robotics as a service (RaaS) business model are below.[note style=”success” show_icon=”false”]
- Knightscope has added a mobile robot and a stationary robot to its security product line.
- The company’s security services are an example of RaaS, in which the provider can continually update its technology while end users pay a subscription fee. Knightscope is working with Konica Minolta to service its robots.
- The market for security robotics is expected to grow as more vendors enter the field.
Knightscope goes off-road with the K7
The K7 is designed to operate outdoors, off payment, in long-distance patrol applications.
This security robot could be especially useful for perimeter patrol duties in large facilities with a variety of terrain that are out of reach for its smaller siblings, the K3 and K5. This includes critical infrastructure such as:
- Solar and wind farms
- Public infrastructure such as: water, power, and gas facilities
- Logistics facilities, seaports, and harbors
Knightscope’s sentry robots open a whole new segment of the market. According to the company, it is able to operate in almost any weather, and to actively patrol an area out of the line of site of a main facility. The K7 will be able to communicate with the main facility either via cellular or radio.
Here are a few of the K7’s specs:
- Four-wheel drive with Holonomic steering
- Four 3D Velodyne VLP-16 LIDAR sensors
- Full 360-degree video camera coverage
- Weight: 700 lb.
K1 sentry robots stands guard
In a break from its mobile robot roots, Knightscope developed the stationary K1 to meet the need to pay special attention to people entering and exiting buildings. With a unique array of sensors, the sentry robots are intended to provide more capability than a simple security camera.
The K1 will have significant new features: an algorithm and sensor array that will enable it to recognize when a concealed weapon is being carried by someone entering a facility. The sentry robot could immediately alert its human counterparts, who would be better informed and more quickly able to contain and control the situation. This should lead to a better outcome for all involved. Over time, Knightscope may offer this capability its mobile robots.
Existing Robots as a Service
Knightscope has already proven its mobile robot designs, including the Knightscope K3 for indoor facilities and the Knightscope K5 for outdoor, on-pavement facilities. The company currently has more than 36 customers across 22 cities in eight U.S. states. Knightscope has now logged over 100,000 miles and 180,000 hours of operation.
Notably, Knightscope is one of the first mobile robot manufacturers to offer its products in a RaaS business model. Many of its initial customers have re-upped their service contracts, proving that they value the sentry robot operations and that Knightscope is taking care of their needs.
In a RaaS contact, the customer doesn’t own the robot, but rather obtains services in a subscription model. Knightscope offers its current line of robots for a service fee of $7 per hour. Knightscope owns its entire fleet of sentry robots in the field.
As a result, the company has an incentive to continue to innovate and improve its technology over time. There are no large, upfront costs to get started with a RaaS solution, making it attractive for industries that depend more on operational budgeting than capital budgeting.
Service is king
Earlier this year, Knightscope signed a strategic relationship with Konica Minolta Inc. in which Konica Minolta’s field-service technicians — already skilled in servicing high-tech printing equipment — will exclusively service Knightscope sentry robots for its customers.
This is a critical part of the RaaS equation for Knightscope, because it can continue to invest in growing the company and developing its products while the service is outsourced to Konica Minolta.
In addition to being a strategic partner, Tokyo-based Konica Minolta has also invested $3 million into Knightscope in its latest investment round.[note style=”success” show_icon=”true”] More on RaaS and Security Robotics:
- MITRE’s Charlene Stokes Talks About Her Human-Machine Research, Defense Robotics, RoboBusiness
- Job Fears Prompt Teamsters to Take on Self-Driving Trucks; Russia Touts AI Missiles
- Robotics Advances Affect Geopolitics, Cyber Security, and Retail
- InVia Robotics Releases Goods-to-Person System for Warehouse Automation
- Robot Security Evolves From the Battlefield to the Home
- Innovative Robot Services From ULC Avoid Breaking Ground
- Qihan Modifies Sanbot Service Robot for the U.S. Market
- Report: The New World of Subscription-Based Robotic Solutions
- RaaS Can Guide Robotics Adoption and Offerings
Security is a big market
Worldwide, the security market is worth $500 billion. Knightscope isn’t the only player on this market, but it was one of the first to market with functional sentry robots, so it has a considerable lead over its competitors. Two other significant players in this market include Sharp Intellos and SMP Robotics.
Knightscope is also a past participant in the annual Pitchfire startup competition at the RoboBusiness conference.
Both the K1 and the K7 will go into production in mid-2018.