Is the new officer policing your local beat actually a robot?

Is the new officer policing your local beat actually a robot?

Give us your feedback, and we’ll help you learn more about where and how police security robots are being used

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

This summer, the police department in Huntington Park, California debuted the newest member of its squad: a 400-pound autonomous robot developed by Knightscope Inc.

The sleek “RoboCop” has gotten a fair amount of attention for its patrols of the local park, including a featured segment on NBC’s “Today” show.

MuckRock’s JPat Brown submitted a California Public Records Act request for materials related to the robot’s use and, through a release earlier this month, found that the machine was equipped with the ability to scan and store license plate information and video footage, which it can then “analyze” for bystanders and potential criminals.

MuckRock wants your help in learning more about how these machines are being used and acquired.

The roving robot security guard has found employment with private companies, malls, casinos, and airports, but the use by official law enforcement is still in its earlier stages. The acquisition by Huntington did not have to go through a competitive bidding process, justified by Knightscope’s standing as the “sole source” provider of the K5 robot.

While equipped with a suite of 24/7 surveillance tools, according to a press release from Knightscope, the non-human attendant has “the purest intention to help the public safe.”

“Despite what some may think, these robots are just trying to help humans!” the company claims.

The same post highlights the damage done to one K5 model in Hayward, California, emphasizing the brutality of the alleged attack by a seemingly-teenaged individual shown running past the machine. According to the police department’s own report of the crime, officers at the time reported that the K5 did not seem damaged and appeared to be functioning properly.

Have you seen one of these RoboCop patrol machines in your neighborhood? Let us know, and we’ll help you learn more about how they’re being used and the policies protecting the digital media it constantly collects.

Image via TriStar Pictures