The Daleks are here—and they’re raising venture capital.
While these are not, strictly speaking, the evil, Nazi-inspired, cybernetic mutants from the planet Skaro who regularly served as enemies of Dr. Who on his eponymous cult television series, Knightscope’s Autonomous Data Machines bear a more than a passing resemblance to the creations of Dr. Who scriptwriter Terry Nation. (No toilet-plunger arms though.)
Knightscope, based in Mountain View, California—Google’s home town—earlier this month announced it had raised $5.2 million in financing from investors including NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Konica Minolta, and Flextronics. The money will be used for further technology development as well as “help the Company accelerate deployments in Silicon Valley.”
So what does the Autonomous Data Machine—the first model is the K5—do? For lack of a better term, it’s a robotic security guard. In a statement, the company says:
Deploying K5 machines in outdoor environments on corporate campuses, around data centers, shopping malls and where private security guards are stationed will free humans to address strategic tasks while the machines handle the monotonous, computational heavy and sometimes dangerous tasks.
PandoDaily gave a quick rundown of the robot’s capabilities, according to CEO William Santana Li:
[The K5] is capable of thermal imaging, registers gestures, recognizes faces and can run 300 license plates in a single minute. It works off proximity GPS and scans its environment every 25 milliseconds. It runs off nearly identical technology to Google’s self-driving cars. He boasts that it can see, feel, hear and smell. It is autonomous, will roam outdoors, can take video, decide when it needs to return and charge its batteries and can detect biological and chemical pathogens and radiation.
Not everyone sees a resemblance to the ominous Daleks in the K5, which is approximately five feet tall, three feet wide and weighs about 300 pounds. Stacey Dean Stephens, a vice president of marketing and sales at Knightscope says many people liken it to R2-D2 of the Star Wars universe.
“Most people who see it in person think it’s quite cute,” Stephens said, but he adds it is designed to make an impression. “It’s meant specifically to be a presence, a deterrent.”
Should the K5 detect any untoward behavior, let’s hope that it’s has a more level headed response than actual Daleks, who were keen to exterminate whenever possible.