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Robotics Security

R2-D2: Mall Cop 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the these-are-not-the-sales-you-are-looking-for dept.
theodp writes "'The night watchman of the future,' explains the NY Times' John Markoff, 'is 5 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and looks a lot like R2-D2 – without the whimsy. And will work for $6.25 an hour.' California-based Knightscope has developed a mobile robot known as the K5 Autonomous Data Machine as a safety and security tool for corporations, as well as for schools and neighborhoods. 'But what is for some a technology-laden route to safer communities and schools,' writes Markoff, 'is to others an entry point to a post-Orwellian, post-privacy world.'"
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R2-D2: Mall Cop

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:58AM (#45573833)
    I'm sure its nothing that a can of spray-paint and some bubble-gum can't deal with
    • You must watch out for the oil slick which is ignited when the robot flies (jeez, sacrilege)
      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        here's the progression:
        * video recording and streaming
        * facial recognition
        * weaponized

        • by BreakBad (2955249)

          here's the progression:
          * video recording and streaming
          * facial recognition
          * weaponized
          * ???
          * profit

          Fixed. Futhermore...

          Within the next 10 years robots will be cleaning and operating all of your house, patrolling your streets, driving your vehicles, delivering your mail.
          The following 10 years robots will be voting for you, playing golf for you, wiping your butt, and getting you pregnant.

          But its ok, the jobs people loose will be replaced with jobs in factories assembling said robots. Any other business model just wouldn't be human.

          • Actually, the Robots will do a better job at assembling themselves. But I do see an increase in Think Tanks.
            • And those Think Tanks will, of necessity, become more logic-based, so while they may become unemployed, people will never "loose" jobs, ever again.
            • by cortcomp (2798707)
              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114367/ [imdb.com] Seems to be in the cards.
          • Yep. Agreed.

            Rather than SW, though, this future vision is more like WALL-E, and this little robot, albeit grounded, looks more like E.V.E. than R2D2.

            And, I am sure that photo was taken in a Buy-N-Large. Bring on the floaty La-Z-Boys with the integrated, voice-controlled, see-through iPads and shake synthesizers!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While I appriciate your attempt, it's hardly the best you could do.

      From the master:

      "As laser-wielding robots home in on his body heat, MacGyver creates a fake heat signature by using magnets wrapped in burning paper. He opens several telephone handsets to get the magnets, and finds paper and matches in the science lab he is in. Once aflame, he throws one piece of burning paper, with a magnet wrapped inside, at each robot. The magnets stick to the metal of the robots. With each robot "tagged," they home in o

      • While I appriciate your attempt, it's hardly the best you could do.

        From the master:

        "As laser-wielding robots home in on his body heat, MacGyver creates a fake heat signature by using magnets wrapped in burning paper. He opens several telephone handsets to get the magnets, and finds paper and matches in the science lab he is in. Once aflame, he throws one piece of burning paper, with a magnet wrapped inside, at each robot. The magnets stick to the metal of the robots. With each robot "tagged," they home in on each other and destroy one another." (e01s02)

        Odd; I'll have to re-check s02e01; I don't remember that. What I *DO* know is that if the paper generates enough heat to fool the robots, it would also generate enough heat to cause the magnets to lose their magnetism. Rare earth magnets, maybe not -- but telephone headset magnets -- definitely.

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          I'd say it wouldn't fool them. If they were guard bots why would they be built where a heat signature the size of a rodent would set them off? Just about every place on earth has rodents.
        • by pla (258480) on Monday December 02, 2013 @02:53PM (#45576517) Journal
          if the paper generates enough heat to fool the robots, it would also generate enough heat to cause the magnets to lose their magnetism. Rare earth magnets, maybe not -- but telephone headset magnets -- definitely.

          NIB (the most common "Rare Earth" type) magnets actually have the lowest Curie temperature of any common magnets (as low as 300C), and the much more common AlNiCo magnets have one of the highest (up to around 900C). Both of those exceed the temperature of burning paper, however, at around 232C.

          MacGyver knows his shit, yo! ;)
    • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:10AM (#45573903)

      I'm sure its nothing that a can of spray-paint and some bubble-gum can't deal with.

      Don't get to cocky about your options in an orwellian/cyberpunk future.

      The corps in turn are sure your spray-paint and bubble-gum tactic is nothing 99.999% reliability facial-recognition + cell-phone tracking + behavioural-and-movement-pattern-recognition + god-knows-what can't deal with by tracking you down, sueing you into next wednesday, locking your creditcards/bankaccounts for that specific mall (all all others connected to the same megacorp and data-exchange conglumerate), putting you on a special surveillance & potential terrorist threat list, ban you from accessing gated communities of type X,Y and Z until further notice and upping your rent for being a threat to society all for spraying and gumming up their new survelliance & minion control bot toy.

      Just saying.

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:01AM (#45574237)

        More likely, it would be considered a violent felony to "tamper with a monitoring device used for law enforcement purposes" or some other stuff like that, with 20 minimum as a penalty.

        Same reason that the red light and speed trap cameras don't get shot up.

        • mall cops for the most part are not real cops and they have little to no law enforcement power.

          • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:34AM (#45574515)

            Speed Trap cameras are not real police either. You seem to suppose that this is to protect you, or has anything to do with the needs of society.

            It doesn't and I will bet that what "mlts" is saying will come to pass sooner rather than later. Likely garbed in some "we need it to defeat the ter'rists scenario."

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Hasn't tourism been defeated already?

              There's no way I would visit the US.

          • by tranquilidad (1994300) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:44AM (#45574613)

            They have the same law enforcement power that you and I have, assuming you're not a law enforcement officer. Whether you choose to exercise it or not you have the power to affect a citizen's arrest in most jurisdictions.

            The biggest difference between a law enforcement officer making an arrest and a citizen doing the same thing is liability. The law enforcement officer is likely to receive qualified immunity such that if the officer followed his or her training and department policies no personal liability will attach to the officer. You, on the other hand, will face the full brunt of any mistakes you make.

            Short of conducting an actual arrest, most law enforcement interactions are based on voluntary cooperation until a threshold is crossed giving the law enforcement officer probable cause to make a formal arrest.

            Anyone can have a voluntary interaction with any other person. I could approach you and ask for consent to search your car. You would almost certainly refuse such a request. What gets weird is when most people are approached by a figure of authority, such as a person in a uniform, they tend to comply. A good, from the police department's perspective, law enforcement officer can get almost anyone to consent to a search.

            The issue is that until a warrant is issued or an arrest is made there is very little difference between a law enforcement officer, a uniformed security guard or me asking to search you or your car. There are some areas related to preservation of evidence and officer safety that give law enforcement some additional latitude but those situations generally require the officer has legal reason, and thus authority, to seize you meaning you are not free to go. The detention short of an arrest is one of the things law enforcement can do that you, I and the mall security guard should not attempt.

            The other big difference is that we, collectively or collectively enough, have decided to give law enforcement officers guns, sticks, handcuffs and a system to make it more and more difficult to refuse the voluntary interaction.

            But you, Joe_Dragon, and that mall security guard have a lot more law enforcement authority than you may believe. Liability and safety concerns, though, generally lead to employer policies prohibiting mall security guards from doing anything other than Observe and Report [imdb.com].

            • by chihowa (366380) *

              What gets weird is when most people are approached by a figure of authority, such as a person in a uniform, they tend to comply. A good, from the police department's perspective, law enforcement officer can get almost anyone to consent to a search.

              This is because most people don't know that the interaction is voluntary. Your "good policeman" is effective at making the search seem mandatory.

              [Their gun, and the general knowledge that they would most likely get away with any assault on you (up to and including murdering you), makes complying with their whims seem even more mandatory. If you recreated your above scenario (you asking for consent to search a car), but this time you are armed and they have no chance of rallying assistance, you'd find people

            • by g0bshiTe (596213)
              Well there's that but someone placing me under citizens arrest has about as much chance of stopping me as they have of stopping a speeding freight train.
          • by g0bshiTe (596213)
            You've obviously never seen Mall Rats.
          • Fine. It will be a felony to "tamper with a monitoring device used to protect citizens." Because terrorists/child abductors.

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          Here I thought they weren't shot up due to people having more common sense than to risk the shot missing and arcing into someones dining room.

          Well that and the 3 other cameras at the intersection can see you tampering with the camera.
      • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@ s p e a k e a s y.net> on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:05AM (#45574259) Homepage

        Actually, if I wanted to defeat one of these, I'd build an EMP Pulse generator into something innocuous, and fry it from a distance.

        Example (although likely too low-powered to disable a MallBot . . ):

        http://www.wikihow.com/Build-an-EMP-Generator [wikihow.com]

        • I see a lot of uses for an EMP generator.

          But then, hardening these things isn't that tough either. All they need is a wire mesh and galvanized rubber wheels and they've got a Faraday cage.

          I suspect as well, that not all EMP is the same -- it's basically a problem of overloading the capacitance of a system. So fragile electronics -- very friable. Analog insulated wires and vacuum tubes -- not very friable.

          • by Salgak1 (20136)
            For that matter, I suspect that they'd be vulnerable to one of those hand-held "taser" high-voltage personal defense devices. . .
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            But then, hardening these things isn't that tough either. All they need is a wire mesh and galvanized rubber wheels and they've got a Faraday cage.

            Faraday cages are grounded. You've just created an untuned rolling antenna. It's going to receive the signal and then reradiate it in confusing and unexpected ways.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          That's not an EMP generator, that's a HERF generator. If it were an EMP generator, it would work through metal cases. If you blew up the coil at the precise moment the current was being dumped through it, then you would have an EMP generator. This is how the EMP warhead on the tomahawk missile works.

      • There is some new "tech gadget" I'd read about that uses spectroscopic interferometry to detect trace particles off of anyone at about 100 feet. So it can know what you had for breakfast. I suspect that coupled with body mechanics and ubiquitous video (to track you to your car in the parking lot) will make anonymity a thing of the past.

        I suppose you could get disguised and arrive at a mall via sewers wearing a bleach covered disposable plastic suit with a morph-ink face mask. Steal some paint in the store s

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          There is some new "tech gadget" I'd read about that uses spectroscopic interferometry to detect trace particles off of anyone at about 100 feet. So it can know what you had for breakfast.

          You mean the handheld gadget? It's fake. And the "chip" in the "demo" video appears to be a cut out piece of refrigerator magnet.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:15AM (#45573945)

      Yes, because people have a right to privacy while breaking into a warehouse. Why is this news anyway? Security robots have been around for more than a decade, and this one doesn't seem to have any sensors or capabilities that are new or different. Even the "rent-by-the-hour" option is not new. It seems overpriced for something that is basically just a wifi camera with wheels.

      • Yes, because people have a right to privacy while breaking into a warehouse.

        Where do you get warehouses from? Both TFA and TFS focus on public places such as "neighborhoods and schools."

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why is this news anyway?

        BECAUSE R2-D2.

        What are they teaching you kids in school these days, anyway?

    • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday December 02, 2013 @12:00PM (#45574797)

      I have a better idea. Get a bunch of foam spheres, cut them in half and apply sticky tape to the flat side. Then get a plunger along with a whisk and put a sticky mount on each end. And as a bonus, hide the electronic guts of one of these [thinkgeek.com] inside of a half sphere and modify the switch to activate every 10 seconds. Bonus points if you attach a bigger speaker.

      Then simply "decorate" the security bot. Your defaced security r2-d2 should now look something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dalek_2010_Redesign.jpg [wikipedia.org]

      EXTERMINATE!

  • history [imdb.com] repeats itself
  • So they get slightly smaller, remain the same weight, and have a different look.

    If Apple releases such a thing and calls it "the future", they are flamed for only changing looks and making it slighty smaller....

    Weird...

    Oh, right, Slashdot:
    I for one welcome our new, R2-D2-looking, overweight overlords of nightly surveillance!
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      ... and doubling the price while telling you how you can and can't use it. It would probably also have a proprietary charging mechanism.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:01AM (#45573845) Homepage Journal
    Just put your Guy Fawks mask on and aim for the head!
    • Does it roll down stairs?

      • by ihtoit (3393327)

        "LEVITATE!"

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "ELEVATE!"

          FTFY.

          • by ihtoit (3393327)

            that too.

            Definitions:
            Levitate is to (cause to) rise and float in the air without any physical support.
            Elevate is to lift something in an upward direction.

            OK, good fix - it did say "Elevate" in the episode "Dalek"...

            Though the levitation trick was revealed in the Sylvester McCoy story "Remembrance of the Daleks" (Season 25 Episode 1) a minute from the end of the first episode, the only thing it actually said involved the extermination of our time travelling hero...

            sources: Cambridge Online Dictionary, person

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Does it roll down stairs?

        Alone or in pairs.
        Rolls over your neighbour's dog.

      • I suspect you were really looking for; "Does it BOUNCE in a satisfying way down the stairs and make a sparky or popping sound?"

    • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#45574407)

      You just know that "cow tipping" an android mall cop will soon become a federal crime. Like denting a mail box.

      Devices that make labor superfluous will of course have more rights than the labor they got rid of. Instead of worrying about the treatment of future mechanized life forms, I now suspect a lot of us will get caught impersonating synthetic life forms to get a chance in life.

      • by BreakBad (2955249)

        Its all about personality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i90vWgOrOK8 [youtube.com]). If the robots have personality (AI), they'll get sympathy, liberties, paychecks.

        Who's gonna be the first person to get sued by a bot? Probably that drunk guy staggering out of a bar and peeing in an ashtray bot thinking it was a urinal bot.

      • by alexgieg (948359)

        Instead of worrying about the treatment of future mechanized life forms, I now suspect a lot of us will get caught impersonating synthetic life forms to get a chance in life.

        It's more likely that some kind of guaranteed minimum income will be adopted once robots are cheap enough and productive enough for the rich to not mind sparing a small percentage of all the surplus they produce to keep the masses in house getting high with access to 24 hours per day of American Idol / sports / reality TV / video-games / porn / sex, all for the cheap, cheap cost of a free vasectomy / tubal ligation. Bread and circus. Brave New World, not 1984, with most people utterly satisfied. No revolts,

        • "the rich to not mind sparing a small percentage of all the surplus they produce"

          When you reach the top level of wealth, money isn't money any more: It's a way of comparing your high score.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:06AM (#45573881)

    “We have a different perspective,” Mr. Li said. “We don’t want to think about ‘RoboCop’ or ‘Terminator,’ we prefer to think of a mash up ‘Batman,’ ‘Minority Report’ and R2-D2.”

    I guess ultimately this product will be a whimsical vigilante that will seal you in a hole in the ground if it thinks you're going to spit on the sidewalk?

  • by Reliable Windmill (2932227) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:08AM (#45573889)
    That video mock-up with the epic battle music makes the company out as being run by a bunch of excited teenage boys, or something. Pretentious and lacking of seriousness.
    • Or brilliant marketing for the target demographic; trust fund VPs who want to replace people with something that beeps as soon as possible.

      "Robot costs $6.25 an hour, mall cop costs $6.25 an hour. Does it have theme music? Screw Bob and his family -- I want the kewl robot!"

  • Easy solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#45573955)

    Don't patronize malls. Go to your local stores instead - and support them before they get swallowed up by giant faceless, evil retail chains.

    Shopping malls are already dehumanized temples of consumerism, even without the robots. Those who know what social interaction is avoid these places like the plague anyway...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Shopping malls are already dehumanized temples of consumerism, even without the robots. Those who know what social interaction is avoid these places like the plague anyway...

      I go to the mall because I know what social interaction is, and the sooner I finish doing it with people I don't want to interact with, the sooner I can do it with people I like.

      The only real problem with malls is that they aren't arcologies. That would really improve efficiency.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      But around here malls and strip malls are nearly the only place with local stores anymore. Big box stores are the places that stand alone.

  • If that thing costs $6.25 an hour to operate then it's a complete rip off. How the hell does that tin can cost that much to operate?

    • You're not factoring in the optional extended warranty.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If that thing costs $6.25 an hour to operate then it's a complete rip off. How the hell does that tin can cost that much to operate?

      Maybe they're taking into account the TCO. When you add on the ~40% premium you pay on top of wages for a typical human employee, it starts to look like very little money. As a bonus, it will probably be much better at detecting genuinely suspicious activity than a meatbag, because it will have only programmed and computed prejudices, and the average programmer is more self-aware than the average security guard. (Now we can argue THAT point, but I don't think it will go well...)

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "because it will have only programmed and computed prejudices,"

        Step 1 is the subject browish?
        Step 2 gauge the level of brown.
        Step 3 level of brown is the deciding factor.

        Who do you think will set these things to decide what is suspicious? Not the designer, but the owners or the renters.

        "I want these things to watch brown people more, oh and turbans are scary, watch those too..."

        never EVER assume a machine is not prejudiced, the person that controls it will add in their plus more in spades because it is a

  • Awaits update to to electromagnetic counter measures! Seriously I could take this thing out with a microwave.
  • by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:29AM (#45574041) Homepage Journal

    In particular, they need to delete "yesterday's tape" except for events submitted to the human police for a prosecution.

    This is what Canadian law requires for business information not needed for explicit, agreed-upon business purposes. Bell, for example, can't divulge my address to a third party without my permission, and must delete it after the business relationship has come to an end.

    We may need a law or a decision setting out the limits of what one implicitly consents to in entering a privately owned place open to the public: different jurisdictions are more or less protective of shoppers' privacy in malls, where the problem has first shown up.

    --dave

  • ... just the entry to the post-employment world.
  • The most alarming aspect to this article isn't the stupid robot that no one wants, but the fact that there's a company out there that's trying to build robots to replace people, on a per hour basis. I imagine places like Home Depot will want a robot to greet/answer questions, and perhaps The People would too. Hell, look at how self-checkout at Walmart is a hit.
  • by Amtrak (2430376) on Monday December 02, 2013 @10:52AM (#45574165)

    “We founded Knightscope after what happened at Sandy Hook,” said William Santana Li

    Seriously! How is an unarmed rolling video camera going to stop some idiot with a gun. Most of the time these gun toting phyco's are looking for fame to spread their "message" this will only make it worse.

    The only solutions to guns are to 1.) keep the crazy's from getting guns 2.) Make sure trusted people with guns are there to stop them if step 1 fails. 3.) Make it hard for them to get at valuables (people or stuff) even if they have a gun through physical security. Anything else is just a waste of time and money IMHO.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I've read about some software that can automatically discern the shape of a held firearm and send an alert, be it a pistol, or rifle. Then, there are detectors used in places which can tell a gunshot and locate almost exactly where it took place.

      Maybe that in combination with a patrolling robot might give an early warning should an event occur.

      Will it actually work? Who knows. However, it might give a few minutes warning for a place to go into lockdown so an attacker has fewer targets to choose from.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Without making the robot shoot back, all it can possibly do is alert you that people are already being murdered. An intelligent, compassionate security guard can do better than that. Unfortunately, they are in short supply. Armed guards aside, a security guard's primary job is to witness and report.

      • Until a third grader eats his pop tart in the wrong sequence of bites.

    • This strikes me as falling in the same general sphere as mall security: less "oh shit it's a cop, run!" and more "hey, that thing looks pretty sweet--we should steal it!"

  • "The system will have a video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser ... and a microphone."

    Okay, so it's a "laser range finder" and not a death ray, but my world now potentially includes hostile robots shooting lasers at me, which is neat (or terrifying?).

  • So then... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:05AM (#45574257)

    'The night watchman of the future,' explains the NY Times' John Markoff, 'is 5 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and looks a lot like R2-D2 â" without the whimsy. And will work for $6.25 an hour.'

    So, no changes from the present, then.

  • There was this boss 80s movie called Chopping Mall about mall security robots killing some teens that snuck into the mall at night to eat pizza and make love.

    This story reminds me of that horror movie. Except the teenager part. And the killing part.

    But totally the mall security robots part!

    • by DSElliot (3445351)
      +1 that's the first thing I thought of when I saw this. Although I believe it was also marketed as "Killbots."
  • They could have had an EPIC security system yelling out "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"
  • known as the K5 Autonomous Data Machine

    In 4 versions time they'll have upgraded the version to be friendly, intelligent, run on four legs and be able to chase after people, especially postmen.

  • What could possibly go wrong [imdb.com]?
  • read K9 instead of K5 and thought of the Doctor's "pet"? :-)
  • at 5 feet and 300 lbs, it's not so different from normal security guards today who look like they'd get winded from standing up
  • It should be more like the ED-209 [wikipedia.org] .

  • Almost 20 years ago I worked on the development of a mobile robot security guard at Denning Mobile Robotics. When we tried to sell to a "large security vendor" we were told that the robot was expensive and if it were destroyed, they would be out capital. If they hire low-wage humans, when they get killed they can hire another one cheaply and insurance (that the human pays for) will take care of the rest. Second, what does the robot cost? If it is patrolling a Walmart, it is likely that the robot is the mos

    • by mlwmohawk (801821)

      Sorry, almost 30 years ago. Damn! I'm getting old.

    • by naoursla (99850)

      The robots might be cheaper today. Especially if it is just a webcam, microphone, motorized wheels, battery and the cheapest wireless networking computer being operated by a server in a more secure area of the store.

      I imagine a single guard monitoring feeds from ten of these roaming around a wal-mart. The guard doesn't even have to be in the wal-mart. Throw a blanket over it and the guard knows something is wrong and calls physical security.

      Throw in some advanced mapping that can compare expected camera ima

  • better. It looks more like a Dalek than an R2 unit, but hey, only 2 of the 3 can handle stairs, I'll let my fellow nerds figure which of the 3 can't.
  • ...a target. As in, paintball, anyone?

    Or, for that matter, oops, I stumbled and spilled my coffee/soup/fries with ketchup all *over* that 'droid....

                          mark

  • Man, R2-D2 was such a wimp. I want a Mr. Gusty [nocookie.net]. Later on I can upgrade to the Sentry Bot [nocookie.net]. In fact, Knightscope needs to change it's name to RobCo. THAT would be awesome.

  • What are the advantages over strategically placed cameras? Why not use what's already there, or upgrade them, and feed all of that into a system that does the heuristics they're talking about? Seems like a much more acceptable route, not to mention cheaper, than putting in robots that will need to be maintained, and most likely vandalized on a regular basis.

  • ...you have 10 seconds to comply

FORTH IF HONK THEN

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