The strangest beast at the Georgia Aquarium this summer won’t be in a watery tank. Instead, a distant cousin of R2-D2 will be out among us: a robot security guard patrolling the parking garage and perimeter, whirring softly, occasionally giving a sweet little whistle and maybe, eventually, raising questions again about the future of jobs for humans.
Allied Universal, the nation’s biggest security services business, is offering to rent the cute rolling creatures to clients. Only about 30 have been deployed in the United States, primarily at shopping malls and offices in California. The first in Georgia would be at the aquarium, an Atlanta tourist attraction with more than 2.4 million visitors a year.
The K5 robot that I put my arm around looked like an upright hard-boiled egg.
It was more than five feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds, but it’s more a tattletale than an enforcer. The robot doesn’t have weapons. It does have four high-definition video cameras, a thermal imaging camera, heat and barometric pressure sensors, oxygen monitors, license plate reading skills and a serious handicap when it comes to navigating stairs.
It also can’t handle gravel roads, elevators or closed doors.