Multiple robots are patrolling downtown Denver parking garages. Will there be more in the future?

LoDoMus Prime and his sidekick Dave are not your average security guards. These robots roam two downtown Denver parking garages every day, watching people park their cars and rush off to appointments in nearby office buildings. If a person lingers too long, LoDoMus Prime or Dave will start a countdown: “Five, four, three, two, one.” Then the robots call their human security backup.

They may resemble R2D2 from “Star Wars,” but without the famous bleeps, boops, and squeaks emitted by the beloved droid. The robots went to work in the LoDo Towers’ two garages on 17th Street in October 2022 after building management recognized an increase in car break-ins. Bethany Chang, a principal with CIM Group, the firm that manages the property, stated that since the company deployed the robots, it has seen a more than 70% drop in car thefts and vandalism.

According to Chang, security was a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. LoDo Towers sought innovative ways to support their security system, and the robots have proven to be a very smart innovation. The use of surveillance tools for security has been common for companies looking to boost their safety measures. Autnomous robots, like LoDoMus Prime and Dave, are becoming increasingly popular in both indoor and outdoor venues, performing tasks that go beyond the capabilities of regular security cameras.

Stacy Stephens, a spokesman for Knightscope, the security and robotics company that built the robots, mentioned that their machines are being placed in office buildings, airports, homeowners associations, hospitals, and manufacturing sites. These robots are 5½ feet tall, 3 feet wide, and weigh 420 pounds. Equipped with a public address system, thermal imaging, and other advanced features, they offer a more robust public safety system.

However, despite their sophisticated capabilities, Knightscope’s robots are not armed. There is a clear distinction between their functionality and any form of weaponry. Moreover, these robots have become a friendly addition to the tenants of LoDo Towers, with charming names and often end up in people’s selfies. Chang expressed that the tenants have been very happy to have the enhanced security that the robots provide.

Though the use of autonomous security robots has raised ethical considerations, the development of these robots is rapidly advancing. There remain legal and ethical questions about privacy concerns, data storage, biases, and responsibilities for the robots’ actions. According to Michael Anderson, from a research group called Machine Ethics, the public is essentially the guinea pig as the use of these robots becomes more widespread.

As the development of artificial intelligence and robots continues to progress, it is uncertain what the future holds. However, it is clear that the public will play a crucial role in shaping the way these technologies are integrated into our daily lives.

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