San Diego Implements New Security Robots to Reduce Crime

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 17, 2024

For years, tech companies have promised that artificial intelligence will make our world a safer, better place to live. From smart surveillance cameras to facial recognition, several developments have improved personal security, but a new technology is making people in San Diego feel safer than ever before. 

Thanks to JDS Security Services, three robots now roam the streets of San Diego at all times, helping the city’s police reduce crime and increase resident safety. 

The Robots Provided by JDS Security Service

These robots were distributed by JDS Security Service, a private security firm based in southern California that offers both human and mechanical “security officers.”

The logo for JDS Security Services on a white background

Source: @JDSSecurity/Facebook

The machines, known at JDS as Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs), come in several different designs, each made for a specific purpose, such as patrolling streets, public transport, hospitals, and so on. 

The K5 Outdoor-Indoor ASR

For the streets of San Diego, the police form chose the K5 Outdoor-Indoor ASR, which offers real-time situational awareness through its 360-degree eye-level Ultra HD recording, a live audio and two-way intercom for residents to communicate with the police, broadcast messaging, and a security call button. 

Screenshot of a JDS Security ASR in action on a promenade

Source: JDSSecurity

Essentially, these robots can be deployed almost exactly as a human officer would. They will patrol the streets, report any suspicious activity, and even allow residents to alert and talk directly to the police for any immediate issue.

The Robots Can “See” in the Dark

What’s especially exciting about these police-like robots is that they have thermal detection, which means they can actually “see” people moving around in the dark.

Photograph thermal detection, showing the heat radiating from human beings

Source: iStock

Additionally, these robots never have to take a day or even a minute off. They recharge their own batteries out in the field, continuing all the while to watch and listen to what’s going on around them.

Are Robot Police Officers Better Than Humans?

These machines can also read up to 300 license plates within 60 seconds and can record a phone’s IP address if necessary. Not to mention the fact that they are extremely cost-efficient. 

Screenshot of a JDS Security ASR in action at a public transportation center

Source: JDSSecurity

JDS Security Services claims that running one of its ASR models costs between $0.75 and $9.00 per hour, which is far less than what a human security guard or police officer costs. So, the question has to be asked: Are robotic police officers better than human ones?

Not Everyone Thinks So

Even with the many advantages that these machines offer to both the local police force and the residents who live in San Diego, some say that they far prefer a human officer. 

A police officer takes a person’s statement at the scene of an accident

Source: iStock

Cynthia Gilliam, resident of San Diego, told CBS8, “I cannot communicate with a machine, I cannot talk to a machine, a machine cannot talk to me.”


CEO of JDS Says That Shouldn’t Be a Real Concern

However, Danny Garcia, the CEO of JDS Security, has tried to explain to residents that this concern isn’t exactly true.

Police officers at their desks; one is on the phone while talking to the other

Source: iStock

Because the ASRs come with two-way intercoms and a security call button, he wants the people of San Diego to understand they can use the robots to contact the police and even talk to them.


The San Diego Police Department Hopes the Robots Will Deter Crime

It’s important to note that the San Diego Police Department doesn’t plan to replace its human officers with robotic ones. There will still be just as many patrolling officers available to residents as there were before. 

View of a neighborhood in San Diego, California

Source: iStock

The real incentive for deploying ASRs into the city is to deter crime. As Garcia explained, “It’s just here to enhance the security so that it constantly shows a presence.” 


JDS Reports That Crime Is Already Down, Thanks to the Robots

San Diego is only the latest location to employ the use of the JDS Security ASRs. In fact, they have already been patrolling a commercial property in Santa Clara, a housing complex in Las Vegas, and a downtown San Francisco parking structure.

Cars parked in a well-lit parking garage

Source: Adobe Stock

JDS Security has reported impressive numbers at each one of these locations. The Las Vegas housing complex was one of the top three locations for 911 calls. Now, with the robots, it’s not even in the top 10. There were an average of 10 vehicle break-ins per month at the Santa Clara commercial property, which have since been reduced by 90%. 


The Los Angeles County Police Is Very Happy With Its Robots

Los Angeles County was the first police force to hire ASRs to patrol the streets, and it has noticed an extreme improvement in crime reduction. 

Close-up photograph of two faceless LAPD officers in black uniforms

Source: iStock

Before the robots, there were 48 reports of crime and 120 citations within a given period of time. After, there were only 26 reported crimes and 38 citations, which means a 46% and 65% reduction, respectively. 


There Are Downsides to Robot Police Officers

Of course, as previously mentioned, some residents don’t appreciate having a robotic police officer in charge of their safety. However, there are other factors to consider as well.

Police officers within the San Diego Police Department arrive to a crime scene

Source: @SanDiegoPoliceDepartment/Facebook

Many people worry that as we rely more heavily on artificial intelligence, human beings will become obsolete and lose their jobs. Which, it seems, could affect police officers in the future. Additionally, others worry that if the world becomes even more electronic, then hackers could overtake the system, leaving many cities defenseless against crime. 


Will Robots Make San Diego Safer?

Although these worries are technically valid, they are not real concerns for the here and now. In no way are robots replacing human police officers in San Diego or anywhere else. 

Aerial view of downtown San Diego and the port along the Pacific Ocean

Source: iStock

For now, the San Diego Police Department and JDS Security simply hope that a few ASRs will prevent crime and make residents feel safer. Hopefully, that will prove true over the coming months.