Texas airport is getting a 420-pound security robot

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San Antonio international airport in Texas deployed a 420-pound autonomous robot to enhance its security operations.

The 5-foot-4-inch K5 robot, made by California-based Knightscope, will be launched in the next few months.

The K5 is equipped with a 360-degree camera and multiple microphones to monitor its surroundings, but its top speed of just 3 mph and its inability to handle stairs means that the K5 will be used primarily for monitoring rather than chasing suspected criminals.

Specifically, K5 will “monitor doors in parts of the airport that are not accessible to the public,” according to local media. San Antonio Express-News.

An alarm sounds when these doors are opened accidentally or inappropriately. In such cases, the robot will check the badge of the person opening the door, and the information is then sent to airport security officials who will confirm whether the individual has access permission and then act accordingly.

Local City Council member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez voted against implementing K5, saying its presence “raises concerns about privacy, surveillance, and racial profiling… These are the fundamental concerns I have with these types of robots and devices,” local news site Ksat.com reported.

But San Antonio airport director Jesus Saenz Jr. emphasized that the K5 “will not be used for surveillance, for any purpose. This is not to police individuals. This was in response to a door alarm that occurred at the airport.”

The K5 Knightscope recently completed trials in New York City in an effort led by Mayor Eric Adams. Lasting less than a year, the trial involved the wheel-based machine patrolling the Times Square subway station, but ultimately the robot had to be escorted by human officers after several passers-by tried to misuse it. New York Times reported.

But now it “lays motionless like a pathetic Wall-E… collecting dust inside an empty storefront in New York City’s busiest subway station,” the Times said. Hopefully a similar fate doesn’t befall the K5 at the San Antonio airport.

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