As I write this I am sitting in the lobby of the headquarters of an large international technology company. It is one o’clock in the morning, and we are about half way through a pilot project for the Vigilus™ Mobile Camera Platform, an autonomous security robot.
I just sent the robot off on its twenty-third patrol of the night, and I am listening to the silence. I am reminded of countless other night shifts, when I was working as a security officer. After six or seven hours on duty the dullness tries to take over. It doesn’t matter how vigilant you are, the long boring hours can become mind numbing. When I was a guard I tried to stay focused, looking for potential problems. Of course, since I was a student at the time, I also slipped in a lot of homework. But there is no denying that the boredom can easily lead to attention fatigue, and a loss of diligence. That is the nice thing about security robots – they never get bored, they never lose focus, and they never decide not to patrol that long hallway to the storage room where nothing ever happens. If they have a patrol to do, they do it every time. They are Always Vigilant.
Tonight the robot is simply patrolling the main floor of the building. The tasks of the night-shift security officer have been the same since the earliest human tried to stay awake and on guard against wild animals and other threats. Then we watched the fire and patrolled the forest-edge; today we watch video monitors and patrol the building, but the job is pretty much the same.
Tonight is different however; I’ve put a robot on patrol, and told it to keep patrolling for an hour. I could have just as easily told it to spend the entire eight hour shift on this patrol, but I like to mix it up a little. So when it finishes this set of patrols, I will select another prepared patrol and send it off again.
The robot goes on its way, looking for problems like unexpected movement or things like obstacles that shouldn’t be there. It checks for people where people shouldn’t be, and scans for hot spots that might be a coffee pot left on. The security robot can check for carbon monoxide, leaking propane, or other hazardous gases. It sends back video so I can get the robot’s eye view of the world. And one of the best things is that it just keeps quietly doing its job, unless if finds a problem.
If the security robot detects a problem it issues alarms and alert messages flash on my command console quickly grabbing my attention. I can take control of the camera, or direct the robot to move to get me a better view, or, if other security systems alert me to a problem, I can tell the robot to stop the current patrol and get over to the trouble spot ASAP. I don’t need to drive it, the robot will get itself there – allowing me to stay focused on responding to the incident.
Best of all, I can do this from anywhere. True, tonight I am physically on site, but I could be located half way around the planet, and still be ‘on site’ using the eyes and ears (and the more sophisticated sensors) of the robot. The Vigilus MCP security robot can work on its own, sending alarms to a monitoring station (or even directly to a cell phone) or it can be integrated into a traditional guard force – extending the reach, increasing the surveillance, and allowing security officers to be in two places at the same time.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes comes from the fact that the security robot never leaves the building. So it is always available. It never calls in sick, never has a daughter’s birthday party to arrange, never gets stuck at home in a blizzard or hurricane. It is there when it is needed, and can come on line anytime to respond to an emergency or incident – whether it was scheduled to be on or not. No more waiting for man-power to respond, just fire up the robot and the security manager instantly increases the assets available for the critical, timely response. Best of all, waking the robot up for an incident response doesn’t increase the cost of security – the robot gets no overtime, no holiday pay, it simply provides a higher level of security when you need it, where you need it.
So, it is one a.m. – do you know where your security robot is?
Where is your security robot? Ours are made here in Colorado by Vigilant Robots