WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW) — In the crowd at Crocker Park, you’ll find a “Secret Agent Man” named “SAM.” Although he’s more AI than man, the crime-fighting robot is now on patrol at one of Ohio’s busiest shopping destinations.
“It’s the first for the Cleveland area. We’re really excited to be innovative,” said Crocker Park Vice President of Marketing Stacie Schmidt.
At 5-foot-1 and 420 pounds, SAM will be on duty year-round, day and night, moving at 2 or 3 mph on routes across the outdoor mall. SAM is programmed to stop when people or objects are in its path.
The robot is capable of streaming and recording 360-degree videos, as well as using thermal imaging. AI allows the robot to issue alerts in real-time to the 15-person security team.
“He’s here to take photos, videos,” said Schmidt. “There’s a human behind him that can actually watch all the videos he is taking and help make sure that he’s safe and sound and if anything looks strange or awry that he has the opportunity to go back and share that video with a human to see if we can help catch the criminal.”
The Knightscope Inc. robot is the latest addition to the security team at Crocker Park, which gets nearly 10 million visitors each year and has more than 1,000 residents and 7,500 employees.
“I think it’s great — just more security, more eyes. There’s a lot of people walking around,” said a store manager who asked not to be identified.
Schmidt said SAM is capable of deterring incidents and ensuring a rapid response to concerns. Only authorized people are able to access the recorded video. Schmidt said SAM can be programmed to broadcast safety-, security- and facilities-related messages to the public. It record open areas of the outdoor shopping mall, but not any shopper in particular.
“He’s just been out on the street for a day, and everyone knows him already,” she said. “They’re waving to him, taking selfies. I think it’s just a really fun opportunity for people to enjoy something unique like this. Everyone’s been so scared of AI and we’re making sure that they’re not feeling that way.”
SAM cannot directly call police, however it is equipped with an intercom able to call on-duty security, where shoppers can talk with security.
“As a mom of three young kids … more safety here is awesome,” said one shopper.
Crocker Park is home to 130 retailers and dining options and spans more than 12 city blocks.