Law/Justice

Security robots expand across U.S., with few tangible results

By Cyrus Farivar NBC News

“It would be difficult to introduce a single thing and it causes crime to go down,” one expert said.

When the Westland Real Estate Group bought Liberty Village, a sprawling 1,000-unit apartment complex on the northeastern edge of Las Vegas nearly two years ago, the police department identified it as one of the city’s most frequent sources of 911 calls.

“There was a little bit of everything,” said Dena Lerner, a spokeswoman for Westland. “A lot of gang activity that revolved around controlled substances, prostitution, dog rings. We had issues with gun rings, drive-by shootings, robberies, assaults — we’re talking everything.”

So earlier this year, Westland introduced a broader program to reduce crime and added an “autonomous security robot” manufactured by Knightscope, a Silicon Valley company to make the complex safer. Each robot is given a nickname, and the one roaming around Liberty Village is called “Westy.”

This model, K5, is a conical, bulky, artificial intelligence-powered robot that stands just over 5 feet tall. Westy slowly roams around at about a human walking speed, with four internal cameras capturing a constant 360-degree view. It also can scan and record license plates and unique digital identifiers that every cellphone broadcasts, known as MAC addresses.

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