Robocop-style security guards capable of recording video and detecting mobile devices are being used in an LA shopping mall
- Robot security guard was introduced to patrol a shopping centre in Los Angeles
- It is equipped with 360-degree camera, WiFi and can read license plates
- 'New employee', is also in part an information directory for shoppers
- Robot security guards were rolled out to patrol streets of New York in October
- But the robocop-style guards are raising questions about people's privacy
A shopping centre in Los Angeles has introduced its first robot security guard to patrol the mall to help identify potential shop lifters.
The robocop-style guard is capable of picking up video footage and sending information back to security headquarters, so they can respond quickly.
It is equipped with a 360-degree camera, WiFi, sensing units and can stream live video, read license plates and detect people.
The bot operates autonomously and looks like a cross between a dalek from Doctor Who and the main character in Wall-E.
The objective of the machine is to differentiate between a harmless passerby and a possible criminal.
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A shopping centre in Los Angeles has introduced its first robot security guard to patrol the mall. The robocop-style guard is capable of picking up video footage and sending information back to security headquarters, so they can respond quickly
The retailer says that the robot will begin patrols at The Bloc open-air plaza in downtown LA in two weeks.
It does not have a name yet but the owners of the retail outlet have opened a competition to give the robot a name, with the winner getting a gift certificate.
The 'new employee', which is also in part an information directory for shoppers, was first introduced to the public over the weekend.
It will need time to familiarise itself with its new home before it becomes fully operational.
Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope manufactures the bot similar to the one deloyed in LA.
The tech company was co-founded in 2013 by a former police officer after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
The company says that the aim of the robot is not to replace human police officers and private security guards but to provide a fill-in for blind spots.
'We really like the fact that this is kind of the cutting edge of technology. It's picking up video footage. It's picking up Mac addresses,' Dan Cote, general manager of The Bloc says.
The shopping centre's general manager says the robot will not take away jobs, but rather improve what's already available.
The robots been deployed under dangerous bridges in San Francisco, crime-ridden public parking lots, and homeless encampments to identify criminals without putting law enforcement at risk.
Manufactured by a company called Knightscope, the objective of the machines is to differentiate between a harmless passerby and potential criminal. Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope was co-founded in 2013 by a former police officer after the Sandy Hook tragedy
One of the robo security guards in New York City last October. The machines raise questions among the public about privacy concerns, one being that all the data is stored in the cloud. But Knightscope insist that the information is secured and is only seen by the security agency
Last October, robot cops were deployed around New York City, raising questions about privacy concerns, one being that all the data is stored in the cloud.
But Knightscope insist that the information is secured and is only seen by the security agency controlling the robot.
The robots are also increasingly being used in select cities around the US at venues including malls, like the Bloc in LA.
Other places include hospitals, stadiums and warehouses, according to the company's website.
The robots been deployed under dangerous bridges in San Francisco, crime-ridden public parking lots, and homeless encampments to identify criminals without putting law enforcement at risk
HOW CAN POPULAR ROBOTS BE HACKED?
In a 2017 study, Seattle-based research firm IOActive found robots from SoftBank like NAO (pictured) were susceptible to more than 50 vulnerabilities
Security research firm IOActive also conducted a study last year that found roughly 50 vulnerabilities in robots produced by many popular vendors.
The machines studied include robots from Softbank Robotics, UBTECH Robotics, Universal Robotics, Asratec Corp, ROBOTIS, and Rethink Robotics.
The vulnerabilities included:
- Insecure communications
- Authentication issues
- Missing authorization
- Weak cryptography
- Privacy issues
- Weak default configuration
- Vulnerable open source robot frameworks and libraries
Overall, these vulnerabilities lead to a plethora of dangers, including the possibility they could be hijacked and used as secretive listening devices or even weapons.
'In the very near future robots will be everywhere, on military missions, performing surgery, building skyscrapers, assisting customers at stores, as healthcare attendants, as business assistants, and interacting closely with our families in a myriad of ways,' the research paper, titled 'Hacking Robots Before Skynet,' noted.