After a successful trial run at the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas, Penn Entertainment announced it would add security robots to all of its 43 properties. Developed by Knightscope, the K5 Autonomous Security Robot (ASR) is intended to improve safety and guest experience. The robots’ duties will include greeting visitors and offering two-way communication with human security staff, as well as acting as mobile security cameras.
In addition to the trial run at M Resort, the K5 has been deployed in Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs in Iowa and Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois. Additionally, just days after the partnership announcement on Sep. 25, Knightscope said two more robots had been deployed in Louisiana, increasing the number of K5 ASRs in use to five.
With the K5, security has become the latest area where robots have been introduced across casinos and resorts. Las Vegas, in particular, has seen an influx of AI across multiple fields.
How Will The K5 Help Penn Entertainment?
The K5 ASR is a robot of the “upright cylinder with wheels” subgenre, as popularized in the public imagination by Star Wars’ R2-D2 and Doctor Who’s Daleks. It stands about five feet tall and can move at three miles per hour, a regular human walking pace. According to Knightscope, the robots will help security at Penn properties but won’t put existing staff’s jobs at risk.
For the most part, the K5 ASRs will provide novelty value for guests and an extra set of eyes for security staff. According to the company’s website, some of the robot’s capabilities include:
- 360-degree, eye-level video streaming and recording in HD
- People detection during certain restricted hours
- Force multiplying physical deterrence
- Automatic signal detection
- License Plate Recognition
- Thermal anomaly detection
Knightscope says that many clients have seen positive results with the K5. For example, one was put into use at an apartment complex in Las Vegas that had ranked among the top 3 in the Northeast Valley for 911 calls. The robot’s presence helped the complex drop out of the top 10.
Additionally, the police department in Huntington Park in Los Angeles County deployed one robot in 2019. It reported that it resulted in:
- 43% reduction in crime reports.
- 68% reduction in citations.
- 10% decrease in calls for service.
- 27% increase in arrests.
Knightscope said the K5 has also helped mitigate crimes like assault, armed robbery, and burglaries.
The Las Vegas Robot Trend
Robots are becoming an increasingly popular gimmick in the Las Vegas tourism industry.
Penn’s announcement comes just days after the new high-tech venue Sphere Las Vegas introduced its humanoid robot Aura. Unlike the K5, Aura will not serve as a protection but as a source of information for the venue’s visitors. The humanoid robot will also be part of the first The Sphere Experience, Postcard from Earth.
Penn’s K5 and Aura will share the duty of greeting visitors, but the Sphere’s robot will also give directions and answer complex technology questions. Another part of Aura’s capabilities is to share the history of human innovations. The Sphere representatives say the humanoid robot’s capabilities will advance as it learns from visitor interactions.
Could Robots Be a Threat to Jobs in Las Vegas?
Penn’s security and the Sphere’s humanoid are the latest examples of AI entering casinos and other Las Vegas businesses. The combination of technological advancement and cost-cutting efforts has led to the introduction of robots in multiple jobs across the city, including:
- Food servers
- Hotel concierge
- Room service attendants
- Taxi drivers
While Knightscope says its K5 doesn’t threaten jobs, some estimates suggest AI could replace between 38% and 65% of jobs in Las Vegas by 2035. That has many people worried, including Nevada’s largest union, the Culinary Union, which has over 60,000 members. The Culinary Union is one of the backers of establishing a lottery in Nevada, which it hopes will fund youth education programs.
According to the National Public Radio, the union is planning a strike by the end of the year, with AI being one of the bones of contention. It hopes to renegotiate the contract to include protections against job losses to novel technologies. In the last agreement, from 2018, the union negotiated a six-month warning before new technology is introduced in the workplace and free training on how to use it.