William Santana Li, CEO of Knightscope – Interview Series
Knightscope is a leader in developing autonomous security capabilities with a vision to one day be able to predict and prevent crime disrupting the $500 billion security industry. The technology is a profound combination of self-driving technology, robotics and artificial intelligence.
William Santana Li, is the Chairman and CEO of Knightscope. He is also a seasoned entrepreneur, intrapreneur and former corporate executive at Ford Motor Company. He is also the Founder and COO of GreenLeaf, which became the world’s 2nd largest automotive recycler.
Knightscope was launched in 2013 which was very forward thinking for the time. What was the inspiration behind launching this company?
A professional and a personal motivation. The professional answer is as a former automotive executive, I believe deeply that autonomous self-driving technology is going to turn the world upside down – but just not in agreement on how to commercialize the technology. Over $80 billion has been invested autonomous technology with something like 200 companies on it – for years. Yet, no one has shipped anything commercially viable. I believe Knightscope is literally the only company in the world operating fully autonomous 24/7/365 across an entire country, without human intervention, generating real revenue, with real clients, in the real world. Our crawl, walk, run approach is likely more suitable for this extremely complicated and execution intensive technology. My personal motivation: someone hit my town on 9/11 and I’m still furious – and I am dedicating the rest of my life to better securing our country. You can learn more about why we built Knightscope here.
Knightscope offers clients a Machine-as-a-Service (MaaS) subscription which aggregates data from the robots, analyzes it for anything out of the ordinary and serves that information to clients. What type of data is being collected?
Today we can read 1,200 license plates per minute, can detect a person, run a thermal scan, check for rogue mobile devices….it is over 90 terabytes of data a year that no human could ever process. So our clients utilize our state-of-the-art browser-based user interface to interact with the machines. You can get a glimpse of it here – we call the KSOC (Knightscope Security Operations Center). In the future, our desire is to have the machines be able to ‘see, feel, hear and smell’ and do 100 times more than a human could ever do – giving law enforcement and security professionals ‘superpowers’ – so they can do their jobs much more effectively.
K1 is a stationary machine which is ideal for entry and exit points. What are the capabilities that are offered with this machine?
Yes, the K1 operates primarily at ingress/egress points for either humans and/or vehicles. All our machines have the same suite of technologies – but at this time the K1 does have facial recognition capabilities which has proven to be quite useful in securing a location.
The K3 is an indoor autonomous robot, and the K5 is an outdoor autonomous robot, both capable of autonomous recharging and of having conversations with humans. What else can you tell us about these robots, and is there anything else that differentiates the two robots from each other?
The K3 is the smaller version capable of handling much smaller and dynamic indoor environments.
Obviously the K5 is weatherproof and can even go up ramps for vehicles – one of our clients is a 9-story parking structure – and the robot patrols autonomously on multiple levels on its own, which is a bit of a technical feat.
Your robots have been tested in multiple settings including shopping malls and parking lots. What are some other settings or use cases which are ideal for these robots?
Basically, anywhere outdoors or indoors you may see a security guard. Commercial real estate, corporate campuses, retail, warehouses, manufacturing plants, healthcare, stadiums, airports, rail stations, parks, data centers – the list is massive. Usually we do well when the client has a genuine crime problem and/or budget challenges.
Could you share with us some of the noteworthy clients which are currently using the robots in a commercial setting?
Ten of the Fortune 1000 major corporations are clients, Samsung, Westfield Malls, Sacramento Kings, City of Hayward, City of Huntington Park, Citizens Bank, XPO Logistics, Faurecia, Dignity Health, Houston Methodist Hospital – are just a few that come to mind. We operate across 4 time zones in the U.S. only. Can check them out on our homepage at www.knightscope.com
The K7 is Multi-Terrain Autonomous robot which is currently under development. The pictures of this robot look very impressive. What can you tell us about the future capabilities of the K7?
The K7 is technically challenging but is intended to handle much more difficult terrain and much larger environments – with gravel, dirt, sand, grass, etc. It is the size of a small car.
Knightscope is currently fundraising on StartEngine. What are the investment terms for investors?
We are celebrating our 7th anniversary and have raised over $40 million since inception to build all this technology from scratch. We design, engineer, build, deploy and support it. Made in the USA – and we are backed by over 7,000 investors and 4 major corporations and you learn about our investor base here. We are now raising $50 million in growth capital to scale the Company up to profitability – we can accept accredited and unaccredited investors as well as domestic and international investors from $1,000 to $10M completely online. You can learn more about the terms and buy shares here: www.startengine.com/knightscope
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Knightscope?
As I write this response, we are in complete lockdown in Silicon Valley due to the global pandemic. The crazy thing is that our clients are ‘essential services’ (law enforcement agencies, hospitals, security teams) so we must continue to operate 24/7/365. You can read more about why I think you should consider investing in Knightscope here – but these days the important thing to remember is that robots are immune!
Thank you for sharing information about your amazing startup. Readers who wish to learn more may visit Knightscope or the StartEngine investment page.