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Robotic Security Forces On Patrol Prompt Privacy Concerns For Some « CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The security force of the future is already patrolling several neighborhoods in the Tri-State area.

The robotic protectors can see what you’re doing and even talk back to you, but the machines created by a New Yorker have prompted serious privacy concerns.

One of the models, named Rosie, uses the same technology as a self driving car to patrol the sidewalks at the Lefrak City Apartments in Queens.

“This is a crazy combination of artificial intelligence, self-driving autonomous technology, robotics, and analytics in something that’s actually useful for society,” said

Knightscope robot on patrol at LaGuardia. (credit: CBS2)

CEO William Santana Li.

Li’s company has built three robot models in the United States, and is introducing them to customers inside a new showroom at 47th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

They’re also deployed at LaGuardia Airport.

“I thought it was pretty cool but I didn’t even know what it really was,” said Connie Ruan. “I thought it was just patrolling around.”

Each robot has five cameras, four of which help the robot see things. The other is used to get thermal imaging data. All of the information gathered goes to an internet-based portal that helps local security forces on the ground.

“The law enforcement apparatus is not going to scale,” Li said. “You can’t keep adding more people, and we’re going to add more people and more officers. it’s not going to happen, society literally can’t afford this.”

The robots are able to observe people walking on the sidewalks, record license plate numbers, detect the heat in objects, and see which cell phone serial numbers are within a designated patrolling area.

Knightscope says the data is secured and is only seen by the security agency controlling the robot. They’re able to stop it and tell it what to look for, but it doesn’t have a joystick that would allow it to follow or target a specific person.

Of course, privacy concerns abound.

“In the wrong hands, people could like… reboot it or something,” said Far Rockaway resident Jose Rodriguez.

Li grew up in Queens and says the 9/11 attacks began his thinking about how to improve security across the country.

“I’m really still upset about it, so I’m dedicating our lives to improving the safety of our country,” he said.

The company says it costs between $6,000 and $12,000 an hour for a new robot to hit the streets. They’re currently deployed in 16 states to come alongside local security teams to help reduce crime.


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