According to a recent Grandview Research Study, the physical security market is expected to reach $110 billion in annual revenue by 2020. Whether it’s a high-tech corporate park, data center, school, or shopping center, there’s a growing need to support security teams responsible for keeping a watchful eye on every inch of the property being monitored. This is especially true if the building has a rather large footprint that requires habitual patrolling.

Knightscope & Cobalt Robotics

Two California-based robotics companies are poised to disrupt the indoor security market with their revolutionary security ‘bots. Knightscope, a Mountain View startup and Palo Alto’s Cobalt Robotics, Inc., are planning to unveil their fleet of smart security guards. Armed with highly intuitive artificial intelligence software and equipped with an arsenal of sophisticated sensors, both the Knightscope K5 and Cobalt are designed to sense irregularities and report them to the proper authorities – whether that be the in-house security team or the local police.

Robots Designed to Help Security Teams

With both companies stressing the importance of living human security guards, both the K5 and Cobalt are being designed to work alongside security teams and not replace them. Although both companies hail from Silicon Valley, their security robots differ with regard to appearance, technology, and intended use. The Knightscape K5, for example, is a crime-fighting robot that comes armed with highly sophisticated predictive analytics technology capable of reading 1,500 license plates per minute whereas the Cobalt is an indoor security robot that uses RFID technology to screen and check employee badges.

Starting with the Cobalt, here is an analysis of the two robots that stand to revolutionize the security industry over the next few years.

The Cobalt Security Robot


Co-founders Travis Deyle and Erik Schluntz, former Google X and SpaceX engineers, designed the Cobalt security robot with proprietary AI software in under a year’s time. Armed with 60 sensors, LIDAR, ultrasound, and high-res depth cameras, Cobalt is an action-packed robot that according to a recent TechCrunch article, resembles “a bishop with a tablet screen.”

With a built-in microphone and a two-way video chat, Cobalt is able to approach its subjects, scan badges using its RFID technology, and instantly arbitrate discussion between building officials and a person. This can be done remotely and adds a much-needed level of protection between intruders and human security guards.

“It’s often too expensive for companies to hire enough human security guards to patrol every floor and corner that they should,” Deyle said in a recent interview with TechCrunch. “Cobalt can help fill in the gaps.”

Like the augmented reality screen used by the Terminator robot, Cobalt can look for abnormalities using its infrared scanner. Whether it’s tracking assets in a high-tech building or identifying a leaking pipe in the basement, Cobalt can be programmed to map changes in a building and communicate it effectively to property managers. By connecting its AI to leading CCTV security systems, you can transform Cobalt into a powerful crime detector – one that notices windows being broken, unauthorized personnel in restricted locations, and data being compromised the moment it has being hacked.

Already backed by investors that include Bloomberg Beta, Promus Ventures, Haystack, Subtraction Capital, and Comet Labs, Cobalt Robotics has security contracts with about 12 major corporate clients. Subtraction Capital investor Paul Willard said in an interview with TechCrunch, “This isn’t a robot that tries to do everything at once. It identifies people and problems, and tells the humans where they are.”

The Knightscape K5 Security Robot

Resembling a taller (5 feet) more robust (300 lbs) contemporary version of R2D2, the K5 is armed with highly sophisticated predictive analytics technology capable of detecting suspicious activity. Designed to assist security officers in corporate environments, malls, hospitals, etc., K5 uses an arsenal of sensors to not only capture criminal activity in real-time but report it to authorities instantaneously.

Confined to a predetermined geo-fenced area, the K5 security robot has automatic license plate recognition (ALPR), directional microphone proximity sensors, thermal imaging capabilities, and is equipped with light detection and ranging (LIDAR) devices. In other words, this is one intuitive Robocop. With its thermal camera capable of seeing temperatures ranging from -30 degree to +500 centigrade, there’s no hiding behind a vault door or trespassing on private property if K5 is on patrol.

Whether it’s a shopping mall parking lot or the garage beneath a high-tech data center, K5 can scan up to 1,500 license plates per minute and according to the Knightscope’s website, “notifies the authorities if it scans a license plate registered to a suspected criminal.” With live 360-degree video streaming and advanced anomaly detection, K5 uses its intuitive sensors to capture the activity within its environment. From there, if its anomaly detection software determines there’s an actual threat, the system immediately notifies the proper authorities using the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC).

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re responsible for protecting employees at a corporate part or safeguarding sensitive information housed in a data center, Knightscope’s K5 and Cobalt security robots use sophisticated algorithms to detect suspicious activity. They provide a system of checks and balances that manpower cannot. Designed to assist security guards and not replace them, the K5 and Cobalt drastically reduce human error and at the same time, are capable of alerting authorities outside of the in-house security office. This has the dual function of safeguarding assets and protecting the security guards at the same time.