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Robots are becoming security guards. ‘Once it gets arms … it’ll replace all of us’

September 3, 2016

By Shan Li : latimes – excerpt

It’s going to turn the security guard and security industry into super humans

William Santana Li imagines a future where robots will keep Americans safe.

Communities, he dreams, will take security into their own hands by investing in wheeled machines that patrol streets, sidewalks and schools — instantly alerting residents via a mobile app of intruders or criminal behavior.

“What if we could crowd-source security?” said Li, co-founder and chief executive of a robotics company, Knightscope, that hopes to eventually do just that.

His question is like many posed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs seeking to modernize, privatize and monetize services once entrusted to the government — and it’s one that has intrigued venture capitalists who have pumped $14 million into his start-up…Already, Knightscope robots are edging into the private security industry, patrolling parking lots, a shopping center and corporate campuses in California. The company’s ambitions, though, are much bigger…

The first jobs to be replaced will be non-sensitive positions, such as the graveyard shift, said Mark McCourt, Allied Universal’s vice president of enterprise services. Eventually, robots could fill positions that he calls “the three Ds” — dull, dangerous and dirty.

“It makes sense to put a robot there,” he said, although some customers still require persuasion, like with any kind of technological advance. “I’m sure people were like, ‘What do we need cars for, we have horses,’” he said with a chuckle.

Rank-and-file security guards are watching the robots with a wary eye.

At the Irvine event, a security guard for the building nodded toward the robots outside: “Here’s my replacement right there.”

“It can’t open doors or pick up packages yet,” the guard said. “Once it gets arms though, it’ll replace all of us…(more)

 

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