With proprietary secrets and employees to protect, Microsoft turns to special robot guards to keep its Silicon Valley campus safe. The autonomous mobile security system involving drones is known as K5.
While it sounds high-tech and interesting, these drones are not reminiscent of RoboCop. They are five feet tall and weigh 300 pounds. Equipment includes cameras, sensors, alarms, and rudimentary artificial intelligence, but no weapons. Their primary function is to patrol large areas like parking lots and alert human security guards to any danger or intrusion.
The system was built and designed by Knightscope, a company located in Mountain View, California. Knightscope markets the robots as data machines that demand to be noticed and yet offer a non-intimidating presence. The company kept the robots in development for several years as engineers perfected a discerning camera.
The resulting high-definition cameras read license plates and distinguish between a harmless employee gathering and something sinister, like an attempted break-in. Other specific equipment includes microphones, weather sensors, loud alarms, and Wi-Fi connectivity to alert human security enforcement. In addition to scanning for intruders, the robots can detect explosives, possible natural disasters, and other emergencies.
The K5 may evolve to a point where it can spot details often missed by humans. At this point, they do not have the ability to interact with people, although they can scan faces. While enjoying the functions of the robot guards, Microsoft will maintain a staff of human security to provide enforcement, respond to alarms, and exercise human judgment in those situations that require it to keep the campus safe.