Think a plot device in your favorite B-Movie is a little far fetched? Wait until the technology catches up and you might be surprised!
One of the staples of good B-Movie watching is the 1986 video classic Chopping Mall. The premise of the movie is one that has been used time and time again in sci-fi movies… Robots run amok. It’s the story of a shopping mall that hires a security company to install robots that look a little bit like what you imagine Johnny 5’s older, less successful brother would look like. On what is to be their first night of duty, the robots are locked in a room manned by a single “scientist” monitoring the Control Center.
Unaware of this new security measure, a group of teenagers that work at various stores in the mall decide to have a little make-out party in the furniture store owned by the father of one of the kids. Yes, malls used to have furniture stores. Just before being unleashed, the mall is hit by lightning which shocks the robots and short-circuit’s them. The “scientist” is too busy reading his nudie book to notice. One of the robots kills him with a shiv (like, why would a robot have a shiv installed?) and they all scatter throughout the now closed mall to do their job… A little TOO well!
One by one most of the teens are murdered by the robots in various ways, including one of the most spectacular head explosions caught on celluloid.
Anyhoo, enough about the movie. What does it have to do with real life? Well, usher in the digital age and we see the advent of a company called KnightScope based out of Mountain View California, about 350 miles from the actual mall where the movie was shot.
The KnightScope robots are designed for… Well, let them say it:
Knightscope is a leader in developing autonomous physical security solutions. The Knightscope “Hardware + Software + Humans” approach reduces costs for our clients, provides a 24/7 force multiplier effect as well as advanced anomaly detection capabilities. Our solution includes providing an autonomous physical presence, gathering data from the environment in real-time, and pushing anomalies to our user interface, the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC).
Basically, the company provides robots that monitor malls, business office parks, and parking lots. The big selling point is the rate at which it can read and track license plates of cars visiting the mall, providing a near real-time record of who is there.
In all seriousness, when I first saw this two years ago I thought it was a sign from the investment Gods. My wife had never seen Chopping Mall and when I found it on Amazon Prime, we watched it one night. Then about a month later I saw a story about the KnightScope robots and how the company was looking for investors. Talk about a sign! The wife was not impressed and so our investment dollars were instead wasted on stupid things like iShares and insurance-based annuities.
I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t invest because about 6 months ago one of the robots ran over a small child. Not “Run Over” and killed, just slightly grazed but enough to elicit a lot of negative news coverage. The company is still looking for investors and appears to be growing. Maybe there’s still room on the ground floor? Hmmmm.