Friday, May 20, 2016

In further robotic disappointments...

Hey, wait a minute, did a company in Mountainview California just rip-off Anbot, China's super-unintimidating robot? Lookit this:
I don't know about you but I'm beginning to like our chances in the robot uprising.
It also helps if the suspect is
the lower half of a mannequin.
The robot on the left is Anbot while the one on the right is-huh? You don't know what I'm talking about? Seriously? Here, click on this to catch up...back? No. I thought not. Let me refresh your memory: Anbot is a security robot built by China's National Defense University. And by security robot, I mean this thing patrols the street, assuming they're sufficiently flat. It can, if need be, tase a suspect and apprehend them with it's gripping arm, if said suspect stands around while a remote operator lines the thing up properly.

Its most useful feature is probably its ability to call the real cops for you because for real, this thing is a glorified Roomba. A Roomba with a taser. Roomba's don't have tasers, right?
"Freeze creep. Dead or alive, you're coming with me."
Like, a high-end sex toy,
but still...a sex toy.
As for which robot is the original, there were presumably Knightscopes 1-4 at some point, so I'm thinking that the Anbot is the knock-off. Knightscope lacks Anbot's electro-shock move and claw but instead relies mostly on the intimidation factor that comes along with looking like a 5 foot sex-toy. Here's what the website has to say for itself:

"If a marked law enforcement vehicle were placed in front of your facility, criminal behavior would dramatically change. Weighting in at 300 lbs and standing 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, the K5 balances a commanding physical presence with an absolutely fascinating technology that provides a positive "state-of-the-art" image for your operations."

Although in their defense, a human
security guard would be only
marginally more intimidating.
So it kind of sounds like Knightscope knows that their crime-fighting robots is functionally useless. Yeah, it can talk to your iPhone and tell you your business or whatever is being broken into but its abilities are otherwise limited to calling for help and um, looking "state-of-the-art" (quotation marks theirs). Also, like Anbot, it will be completely stymied by stairs and is probably easily tip-over-able. So they're kind of asking us to just go ahead and take their word for it that would-be criminals will be so intimidated by the sight of a giant rolling personal massager barreling towards them that they'll simply soil themselves and run away.

I don't know how much a Knightscope costs, and the website just tells you to contact their 'sales team' so they can explain to you why you need this ridiculous mecha-dildo so I can't say with any authority whether it's worth it. But since we've never let information stand in the way of forming an opinion, I'm going to call bullshit on this. If you're going to build a crime scarecrow, you can at least go through the trouble of making it look like it can goddamn end criminals rather than just gently stimulating their erogenous zones.
Above: Knightscope 5 may never replace human security
guards, but it sure can leave them satisfied and begging for more.

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