There are many, many movies where Superman can see through a wall and identify a bad person without having to see him/her (he has super-powers after all!). This is the main reason why people today think that a thermal camera on a security robot will give them the same capabilities. Here, we will discuss what a thermal camera on a security robot will actually do for you.
A thermal imaging camera is a type of thermographic camera used in firefighting, law enforcement and military operations. A Knightscope Autonomous Data Machine (ADM) senses its surroundings with temperature as a measurement in long wave infrared spectrum (LWIR) beyond the normal red-green-blue (RGB) visible light spectrum as human eyes see. Additionally, pixel wise measurement of temperature – thermography – is useful to determine patches of temperature in the frame that could be flagged as white-hot thermal events.
While these are expensive pieces of equipment, their popularity and adoption has been increasing. By rendering infrared radiation as visible light, these cameras allow one to see heat radiating through smoke and darkness. This gives the machine a unique capability to see if there is a car running in parking lot overnight or a human loitering in total darkness or in cases where people are trapped somewhere, and rescuers cannot find them.
At Knightscope, we use thermal camera technology to detect the temperature of different regions during our autonomous patrols. Our customers have full control of what “hot” means to them as the cameras are customizable and will detect high temperatures indoors as well as outdoors. For some customers, anything above 100 degrees is too hot while others only care about anything that shows more than 400 degrees – it varies by location and use case as well as time of day or night.
Knightscope robots have already had several wins from these thermal cameras. One example is at a retail client of ours. At the mall, one of the tenants of the small kiosks had left a curling iron plugged in for the night. The human security guard was not able to determine that the temperature was too hot but our K5 machine detected that and sent an alert to a human, so they took action. The robot effectively avoided a fire that would have cost a great deal of fire damage and financial harm.
Another example was a hot pipe that was about to burst at a commercial property where our machine sent an alert about it and avoided a costly repair for a client.
Additionally, a nurse at hospital complained that a man in his vehicle was saying harassing things to her at night in the parking lot where our machine patrols. She provided them with the vehicle make and model. They pulled up some of the thermal detections and found a white-hot thermal image of vehicle that was either running or recently running in the area where the nurse said this individual was. They got a vehicle match, captured the plate number, and the security team went right to that location and began questioning the suspect. He denied being in his vehicle at the time, but the security team was able to provide him proof that he was in his vehicle at the alleged time of the harassment due to the time stamp on the thermal detection. They were then able to pull further additional eye-level video to support the claim.
Long-term we want our Knightscope security robots to ‘see, feel, hear, and smell’ but in the meantime, “thermal crime-fighting powers…..activate!”