Archive for January, 2013

Security Robots as Force Multipliers

For a security team the critical question is how to provide high quality security without breaking the bank.  With an unlimited budget,  the security manager would still face challenges, but the job of meeting the client’s needs would be easier. Unfortunately, an unlimited budget is not in the picture, and many clients see security as an expense that needs to be reduced.  That means the security manager needs to provide high levels of protection on a diminishing budget. In short, do more with less.

How can a security robot help? The key is the nature of an autonomous security robot. It is capable of acting as a force multiplier. Unlike a robot that must be driven by a highly trained (and expensive) technician, an autonomous security robot can operate on its own. It can take care of routine security tasks, such as midnight shift patrols, freeing up the security officers to focus on the tasks for which human intelligence and judgement are needed.

At Vigilant Robots, we envision security robots as teammates, extending the capabilities of the existing security team. We see three major contributions:

  1. extending the range of the security team,
  2. extending the capabilities of the team, and
  3. extending the density of the security coverage.

Extending the range of the security team

Providing around the clock security is an expensive proposition. It can be challenging to hire, train, and retain qualified security officers. This is especially true when covering the midnight shift is concerned. While many clients would like to have constant patrols in their facility at night, they may not have the budget. Adding security robots to this shift is a powerful tool. The robots do not care if it is 3am or 3pm, they will do the same work. They do not get bored, nor are the reluctant to do the same patrol over and over.  They are ideal for the “dead of night” tasks that must be done. This has the added benefit of freeing up trained security officers to be assigned to other shifts, where their skills and capabilities are more valuable.

Extending the capabilities of the security team

Since a security robot is an intelligent electromechanical system, adding additional sensors can extend the capabilities of the security team.  A robot thinks nothing of being asked to take constant readings on its rounds. Where a human officer would have to be loaded down with devices to measure temperature, humidity, carbon-monoxide, explosive gas, etc., these options can easily be added to the security robot, and it will take and log these detailed measurements every few inches, if that is what the client needs. It will also generate immediate alarms if any readings indicate a problem.

Extending the density of the security coverage

What do you do when a security officer needs to be  in two places at once? When she needs to be covering the lobby at the same time that there is a door alarm by the loading dock?  Send the robot, of course!  Since an autonomous security robot does not need to be driven around, it can be as easy as “Robot, go to the loading dock, notify me when you get there, and scan the east door.”  That will cause the robot to put its current task on hold, figure out the best way to get to the loading dock, get itself there, and start relaying high definition video of the situation. Your security officer is virtually in two places at once. Or the robot could be told to cover the lobby and alert on any motion, while the security officer heads down to the loading dock to deal with the incident. Either way the effective security coverage is doubled.

Security Force Multipliers

We see a valuable role in the security industry for autonomous security robots. The technology is available, and the need is significant. Putting these robots to work can have multiple benefits including

  • increased quality and coverage provided by the security team,
  • increased responsiveness of the team, and
  • more effective use of the available assets

And this can be accomplished in a cost effective, reliable way.  We have a short white paper discussing this in more detail, for a free copy submit the form below.

Where is your robot?  Ours are manufactured by Vigilant Robots, here in Colorado.

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Legal Liability may block driverless cars

Wall Street Journal article on Driverless Cars:

“Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles already has 22 pages of rules for driverless vehicles, and has licensed Google, Audi, and Continental AG to test them on public roads. The vehicles must undergo 10,000 hours of testing on closed tracks and testers must put up a bond of at least $1 million to cover any potential liabilities.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323854904578264162749109462.html
(Subscription required)

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Robot Cleaner coming to Solar Panels near you!

A key to the green solar revolution is keeping efficiency high, and that means clean panels. Now there is a commercially available cleaning robot designed for the solar market.
http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-20560-facade-cleaning-robot-makes-its-way-to-uae/#.UQWkj7873ng

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Robots on the rise

Report on robots tonight on CBS 60 minutes:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57563384/robots-on-the-rise-in-the-workplace/

Jim

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My co-worker is a robot!

At Vigilant Robots we make security robots. When I talk to people about putting robots to work, one of the first comments I hear is something like: “Won’t these robots put people out of work?” In part that is driven by the impact of industrial robotics on assembly line workers, in part it is driven by a vision of robot’s capabilities that maybe exaggerated (see my earlier post on the Mythical Robot).  My answer is that robots are far more likely to become co-workers than competitors for most jobs.

Robots as assistants

It is going to be a while before you call for a plumber and a robot shows up at your door to fix the pipes, or your robotic housekeeper keeps your house de-cluttered, swept and vacuumed, and puts your laundry is put away.

Mobile robot patrolling garage

The Vigilus Mobile Camera Platform Robot on patrol in a warehouse in Denver, CO. The security robot is manufactured by Vigilant Robots.

However, what you might see in the near future is the plumber arriving with a robot that precisely cuts and aligns the pipes, or a cleaning service that puts an autonomous vacuum cleaning robot to work in the living room, while the human dusts and straightens up the bedroom.  In both cases the jobs will be done more quickly, and potentially better, but the robots will be co-workers not competition. Or, in our own business – you might see a security robot patrolling the parking garage keeping the employees safe, while the human security officer is helping someone in the lobby, or by the loading dock.

Job Displacement

This does mean that there will be displacements and jobs lost to robots. If a plumber working with a robot assistant can do twice as many repairs in a day as a plumber working alone, there will be a need for fewer plumbers. If a cleaning service can do twice as many houses a day, there will be cleaners who are put out of work. This is an inevitable result of the introduction of new technology. In the late 1800’s if you wanted a clean house, you probably had a full time housekeeper. Then along came the electric sweeper, then the vacuum cleaner, the automatic dish washer, the clothes dryer, and so forth.  Now, if you want to hire it out, you might have someone come in for a half a day each week. Over the last hundred years, tens of thousands of maids, house-cleaners, and ‘daily help’ have been put out of work. But it was not as wholesale lay-offs, in spite of futurists predicting two billion people out of work.

Social Acceptance

The drivers of acceptance will not be the new technology, as always the drivers will be social. For an example, look at automobiles. The automatic transmission was one of the first technological upgrades to the automobile. Introduced in the early 1940’s, it was met with skepticism, uncertainty, and reluctance.  How could a machine do a better job than a trained human, can I trust it to put the car in the right gear?  It took over a decade for automatics to outsell manuals, and as late as 2006, it was reported that up to 15% of buyers still want manual transmissions.  If it takes decades for a simple upgrade like an automatic to become accepted, how much longer to build trust and acceptance for a disruptive change like robots.

Trust is key

When it comes to security robots, trust is key. If you have the responsibility of providing security for your customers, you cannot take any chances. So why do we focus on security? The security job is a tricky one that requires a complex mix of judgement, attention to detail, boring repetition, and constant vigilance. To become a good security officer requires meeting stringent requirements, undergoing significant training, and applying a complex skills base.  You have to be willing to work long hours doing routine tasks, punctuated by short, stressful incidents. It was one of the 20 most dangerous jobs in the US in 2010, and the pay is not great.  So it is challenging for security companies to hire, train, and retain good employees – but they need those employees today.  As they gain trust in security robots, they will put them to work. The robots will not do the parts of the job that require human intelligence, judgement and empathy; no, the robots will do the dirty, dull, and dangerous parts of the job. This will free up the human security officers to do what they are best at: providing top notch security, backed up by top notch technology.

Where is your robot? Our award winning security robots are being made right here in Colorado, by Vigilant Robots.

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1000 robot makers – interactive map

The Robot Report has an interactive map of robot makers: http://www.therobotreport.com/index.php/site/TRR-Global-Map/

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Toyota unveils autonomous concept car

Your robotic chauffeur is one step closer:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/toyota-semi-autonomous-lexus-car-will-keep-you-safe?goback=%2Egde_1888416_member_202375757

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Robots patrolling shopping malls?

Florida county considers tougher security standards for malls and businesses

while they do not call for security robots – businesses are having a hard time filling position now. Increased requirements will need something new – like security robots.

http://www.securityinfowatch.com/news/10848565/florida-county-considers-tougher-security-standards-for-malls-and-businesses

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New study suggests that robots will impact 25-29 year olds?

“Will a robot take your kid’s job?” A study by economists suggests that it is not the oldsters that should worry:

http://bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/01/06/will-robot-take-your-kid-job/343faBBTpGnZJr9MpelRpJ/story.html

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