In a lighter story from the world of security, a Knightscope K5 security robot fell down some stairs into a decorative fountain while on patrol. It demonstrates that automation isn’t a perfect solution for security and the need for human guards persists—at least for now.
The incident, which was reported by multiple outlets, took place at the Washington Harbour development in Washington, D.C. After the news broke, the Internet pretty much lost its mind, with a wide variety of humorous commentary erupting worldwide.
The mishap doesn’t change the fact that the robot is really, well, cool. As Sebastian Anthony described it in a piece for Ars Technica:
“It has a 360-degree video camera array, sensitive microphones, air quality sensors, and even thermal imaging capabilities. The cameras can apparently scan up to 1,500 car number plates per minute; the microphones can detect gun shots and other notable sounds. Autonomous mobility is provided by a mix of lidar, radar, and the video camera array—but given that it missed the steps down into the Washington Harbour water feature, perhaps the software needs tweaking.”
The idea behind patrolling robots like the Knightscope K5 is to automate certain security functions. While it can’t actually apprehend criminals or trespassers, it can relay information to either the police or a smaller facility security force that can respond directly to issues as they occur.
However, the K5 has a track record that is far from perfect. Some of its past failings include running over the foot of a 16-month-old child and getting punched out by a drunk guy.
So, while automation continues to progress, incidents like these prove the necessity of a human element in security—even if that element is simply the ability to negotiate stairs.