Robot security guard maker releases statement on privacy

Knightscope, which has been in the news a lot lately because of its first product, a robot security guard, today directly addressed one of the concerns people have about the robot: privacy.

In a post on the company’s blog, the Knightscope notes that while some privacy advocates are uncomfortable with the way the robot collects data, they believe they can utilize the data in a way that improves public safety. As an example, they site its Automatic License Plate Recognition technology (known as LPR).

A recent survey collected 504 qualified responses from law enforcement professionals and the response was overwhelming… over 60% claim that their use of LPR has saved a life, over 87% responded that LPR had assisted their agency in a major crimes investigation, over 99% stated that they have never been aware of misuse, and over 94% stated awareness of policies and federal legislation in place to prevent misuse and punish offenders.”

The full name of Knightscope’s robot is the K5 Autonomous Data Machine. It records everything that is happening around it, making it a valuable tool for solving crimes where no other witnesses are present — and perhaps deterring such crimes in the first place. But, of course, it records everything, both good and bad, which leads to interesting questions about how that data might be used.

If Knightscope’s product is a success, its uses likely won’t be confined to security and neighborhood watch jobs. When the K5 was originally announced, its creators suggested that it could be used for monitoring progress at construction zones; brokers seeking detailed traffic analysis; military bases needing perimeter surveillance; tech companies needing to improve mapping data refresh rates; manufacturing plants improving physical inventory control; farms and ranches requiring monitoring; and power plants requiring inspection. Before we reach that point, however, the company is trying to address any concerns people have about the way the robot collects data.

Click here for Knighscope’s take on why their robot strikes the right balance between crime prevention and maintaining privacy.

[ photo courtesy of Knightscope ]