Patrolling the streets of Union Park (located just south of 56, off of Meadow Pointe Blvd. in Wesley Chapel) is the first “security robot” to be on duty in a residential neighborhood in the United States.
“Right now, we’re beta testing for six months at Union Park to see how a security robot would help us in a large community,” says Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development Group, developers of both Union Park and Epperson (see page 1), the latter of which is part of the “connected city” and which will be home to the first of two Crystal Lagoons coming soon to Wesley Chapel.
The robot has been named “Deputy Metro” and is a five-foot tall, 400-pound robot that drives itself throughout the community. It records data and provides 360-degree video.
“What we do at Metro in our heart and in our DNA is innovation,” Goyani says, so experimenting with brand new technology makes a lot of sense.
While Union Park is the first residential community to get a security robot, Goyani says it’s actually the 39th of more than 50 such robots throughout the country, created by a company called Knightscope. These robots patrol malls, hospitals, office parking lots, even the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Goyani explains that it’s too early to tell exactly how Deputy Metro will be used in the long term, but it’s planned to be used at the soon-to-be-renamed connected city and at Metro’s developments with Crystal Lagoons. Goyani explains the current beta testing will help determine how it will be used in those larger communities. “The main goal is as a deterrent and seeing how this technology can fit into our lives,” Goyani says.
“For example, Union Park is not gated,” he says, so Metro tried stationing the robot at the entrance to the community to see how that worked. “We essentially made Deputy Metro like a virtual gate, monitoring the traffic going in and out.”
Meanwhile, he says video from the security robot has already been requested by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office (PSO).
In the future, Goyani hopes the PSO won’t have to request the footage. As part of its partnership, Metro Development expects to make streaming video available to the Sheriff, “so they don’t have to call us at all.”
Goyani says the reactions to Deputy Metro have been overwhelmingly positive, and many negative responses are due to concerns they have been able to alleviate, such as a concern that the robot could cause a resident to get a speeding ticket.
He says some of the positive response has been even more than what they expected.
“Deputy Metro is part of the community,” says Goyani. “One time when I was at Union Park, a couple of engineers from Knightscope were there, and a young girl who lives in the community came with her dad and brought her notebook and followed them around. She said (Deputy Metro) inspires her to learn more about STEM and robotics.”
For more information about Deputy Metro, visit DeputyMetro.com.