Microsoft Built a Friggin Dr. Who DALEK
Microsoft Built a Friggin’ DALEK
Here come the autonomous robot security guards: What could possibly go wrong?
Showing a rather shocking disregard for the long-term safety of human civilization, Microsoft has become one of the first companies to deploy autonomous robot security guards. Dubbed the K5, Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus was being policed last week by five of these roughly human-sized 300-pound (136 kg) robots, each equipped with enough cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and alarms that they can replace most human security patrols. Fortunately, despite looking like uncomfortably like a Dalek from the Doctor Who universe, the K5 is not (yet) equipped with a ray gun or any other method for harming or detaining humans.
The purpose of the K5, like most robots, is straightforward: To replace expensive human workers. The K5 can run for around 24 hours on a single battery charge, automatically navigates back to the charging point when it’s running low, and only takes 15-20 minutes to recharge. Obviously, in the long run, this is cheaper and more efficient than a human security guard — plus, as technology improves, the K5 will probably be more vigilant and capable of spotting smaller discrepancies than a human. In theory, because of the lower cost, you could also field lots of K5 robots, reducing the number of potential holes in security coverage.
It goes without saying, though, that deploying a fleet of roughly human-sized, autonomous robots is just a little bit scary. At the very least, a 300-pound robot would cause a lot of damage if it ran into something — a car, a shop window, a child. In all likelihood, though, if these robotic security guards are popular, they’ll eventually be equipped with weapons — perhaps a taser for subduing a suspect, and a tear gas launcher for clearing groups of people. At that point, you need to be really sure that the AI is free of bugs.
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