Silicon Valley startup Knightscope Inc. is developing an "Autonomous Data Machine" with the potential to perform the oftentimes monotonous task of keeping watch over property more cost effectively and comprehensively than a human security guard. The company today revealed it has already started securing beta customers for its first two models, the Knightscope K5 and K10.

The robots, which share a passing resemblance to R2-D2, collect real-time data via a network of sensors. These sensors can include a 360-degree high definition video camera, high quality microphones, thermal imaging sensor, infrared sensor, radar, lidar, ultrasonic speed and distance sensors, air quality sensor, and optical character recognition technology for scanning things like license plates.

The data the robots collect would be fed into a centralized data center with law enforcement also able to access data in real time, giving them a unique vantage point to assess the situation before arrival. As well as providing real time alerts, Knightscope says companies will be able to analyze historical data collected over time to help predict crime and allow companies to make better business decisions.

Depending on the sensor loadout, the units can be used to monitor differences in temperature; calculate the traveling speed and distance of surrounding objects/people; observe night time activity using infrared technology and provide precision 3D mapping of an area. There are also plans to include facial recognition technology to help recognize an offender or wanted persons once the technology has been perfected.

“We founded Knightscope in response to the President and Sandy Hook’s calls to action and with the ultimate goal of providing an avenue for all Americans to join the fight against crime,” said William Santana Li, Chairman and CEO, Knightscope.

Knightscope says the K10 model is intended for vast open areas and on private roads, while the K5 robot is better suited to more space-constrained environments. While security is the most obvious application for the technology, Knightscope anticipates the units could be used for everything from detailed traffic analysis to factory inspections.

The K5 Beta prototype will be on display today at the Plug and Play Winter Expo in Sunnyvale, California and beta testing is due to commence at the end of this year.

The following video gives a brief overview of the Knightscope K5.

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