Archive for October, 2013

Vigilus-MCP security robot on Patrol

Here is a quick video of the Vigilus Mobile Camera Platform (MCP) robot on patrol.

Robot patrolling the receiving dock, and monitoring changing temperatures.

Robot patrolling the receiving dock, and monitoring changing temperatures.


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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Security Robots

I know what you are thinking: “How can these possibly relate?”

Sign for entrance to emergency room

Are hospitals facing a security emergency?

In a recent article I saw “”[E]xperts say that Obamacare could also have a substantial impact on physical security at hospitals and other healthcare facilities when the law goes into full effect beginning next year.” “[H]ospitals are being forced to make tough spending decisions regarding support services which include security.” the article by JOEL GRIFFIN  in Security Info Watch, goes on to quote.

As many of us know, Physical Security is often seen as a cost of doing business – a cost that is ripe for being trimmed to meet other budgetary needs. After all, they think, “We haven’t had an incident in years, so we can surely get by with fewer officers on the night shift, or less frequent patrols.”  Hospitals around the country are cutting staffing and out-sourcing security.  At the same time, the growth in the numbers of patients and visits expected from the implementation of the ACA, will also increase the need for physical security.

So, what does this have to do with security robots, you ask? One way to stretch security dollars is to leverage the capabilities of autonomous mobile security robots. These robots can be used on the night shift, acting as force multipliers to increase the physical security while reducing operating costs.

Vigilus MCP security robot on Duty in Lobby

Vigilus MCP security robot on night patrol duty in Lobby

Typically, a Vigilus®-MCP security robot operates for about $4.00 per hour. Contrast that with the fully loaded $14.00 to $20.00 a hour to cover an eight hour shift, 365 days a year. Over a three year operating life, the robot can save over $100,000 in operating costs.

This can be a very powerful tool for a security manager, especially one confronted with shrinking budgets and increasing demands. Integrating a security robot into your security team is straight forward, it is much like adding a new officer onto the team (see On-Boarding your Security Robot) . But this is an ‘officer’ that is perfectly suited for the dull, dirty, and potentially dangerous duties of the night-shift.  Each can be configured to generate alarms on unexpected motion, high temperatures, or smoke and gas.  In addition, since each robot is equipped with its own HD camera, it provides an up close and personal view of any incidents. To learn more about solutions offered by security robots,  and to stay on top of developments in security robots, subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter or give us a call.

Where’s Your Robot?® Ours are proudly Made in America, by Vigilant Robots

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Vacant Building Fires and Security Robots

“An early morning fire in a vacant North Tulsa store is a reminder cold weather is approaching. Around 4:30 Thursday morning fire crews responded to a small fire inside a vacant Piggly Wiggly store near Admiral and Harvard. On the scene crews say they had trouble getting inside the boarded up building, but once inside they found thick, black smoke and a homeless man. Firefighters interviewed him about his involvement and determined he started the fire to keep warm. They say he got into the building from a hole in the roof. He was also found with stolen copper, and tried to run away from police officers.”(1)

Chicago warehouse fire

Fire officials around the country are gearing up for the expected increase in vacant building fires. Every year as the colder weather creeps south, the number of fires in vacant building increases. frequently caused by people breaking into the buildings for shelter, and starting fires for warmth – fires that all too often get out of control and cause significant property damage, injuries, and deaths.

This is so common, that many insurance companies automatically reduce the property damage coverage by as much as 15% if a building is considered vacant. According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association(2), in 2003-2006, U.S. Fire departments responded to an estimated average of 31,000 structure fires in vacant buildings per year. These fires resulted in $642 million in direct property damage per year(3) And more significantly, fires in vacant buildings are a leading cause of firefighter injuries.

In part, this is due to the fact that since the building is vacant, there is no-one around to detect the fire when it is still small and easier to control.  In many vacant building fire reports there are the words “When the fire department arrived, the building was totally involved.”

In most cities, you can find security officers on duty in vacant buildings pulling ‘Fire Watch” shifts. Possibly the most boring and at the same time dangerous, shift imaginable.  On patrol in a large, boarded up building checking for break-ins and watching for fire.  Talk about a task that is dirty, dull, and dangerous – it is perfect for a security robot.

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.

To increase the ability of our security robots to address this need, we have added our FireWatcher™ option package to the robots.  This module adds dual channel smoke/gas detectors to our award winning robots, and integrates with the on-board thermal sensors. Cutting edge artificial intelligence software enables the robot to quickly and accurately assess the likelihood of a fire during its normal patrols.  The key to saving the building is often getting there when the fire is still small, and by delivering the smoke/fire sensors to the fire, rather than waiting for the fire to grow large enough to be noticed by passers-by on the street.

Given the state of repair of vacant buildings, and late detection of fires, vacant building fires are a major cause of injuries for the fire fighters:

  • Only 6% of all reported structure fires were at vacant buildings, but they accounted for 13% of the firefighter injuries incurred at structure fires.
  • From 1998 to 2007, 15 firefighters were fatally injured at vacant building fires(3).

With a security robot on duty, break-ins can be detected sooner, the fires can be spotted earlier, the fire departments can arrive sooner, and they can have much better information about the fire before they go in, since the robot can relay video of the fire – without putting people at risk.

To stay current with the advances in security robots, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Where is your robot?® Ours are on duty protecting lives and property, proudly made by Vigilant Robots, in the USA

(1) From October25, 2013  Tulsa, OK, USA


(3) Vacant Building Fires, National Fire Protection Association, April 2009

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Machine gun toting robots? Skynet is getting closer!

Is it just me, or does this sound like a bad idea?  Given our ability to control complex systems, what happens when there is a bug in the software?

Machine gun toting robots? Skynet is getting closer!


A military test of the "protector" robot equipped with an M-240 machine gun undergoing tests at Ft. Benning, GA. Notice the chains!

A military test of the “protector” robot equipped with an M-240 machine gun undergoing tests at Ft. Benning, GA. Notice the chains!

Notice that the robot is in chains to hold it down when it goes wacko!   It kind of reminds me of old Frankenstein movies.

Of course the intention is to save the lives of our warfighters, and I totally agree with the goal.  But as a professional robot developer with decades of experience in programming robots, I have to point out we can’t even keep our robot vacuum cleaners from getting stuck under the couch.  Should we really rely on that software to control a 50 caliber machine gun?

Heck the DOD can’t even keep SLA hackers from taking down their websites – anyone want to guess what a hacker would do with one of these puppies?  Just sayin’


Where is your robot?  Our are made here in colorado by Vigilant Robots, and they don’t carry guns.

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Security robots earn their ‘pay’

Robert looked at the client presentation deck, and thought: “This is good!”  Then he looked at the time and thought: “11pm, this is not good.” He saved the files, shut down the computer, and carried his coffee cup into the small kitchen, and prepared to go home. He shut off the lights, turned on the security system, and locked up the building.

As he walked through the light snow towards his car, his phone buzzed with a text message.  The security robot was reporting a high temperature in the kitchen area. The attached image showed the source: Robert had forgotten to turn off the coffee maker, and it was overheating.  As he turned to go back to the office, he thought to himself how badly the client meeting would have gone, if there had been a fire over night.

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.

Across town, in an older industrial area, a Vigilus(tm)-MCP robot is patrolling a vacant warehouse. It is one of two security robots that alternate twelve hour shifts in the building. The other robot had ended its shift 4 hours ago, and was docked in the recharge station(1)

The robots are tied into a wireless network that connects them to the Security Command Center 5 miles away. Scanning the door by the south loading dock with its sonars, the robot detects that the door is partially open, and sends an alarm to the SCC.  The officer on duty looks at the video feed, and realizes that someone has pried the door open, probably to get in out of the cold.  The officer instructs the robot to execute a ‘heat and motion’ patrol, and turns on the robot’s LED headlights to improve the video quality.

A few minutes later, the robot comes across a transient, apparently asleep in a corner.  The security officer activates the flashers and pulses the siren to wake the intruder up.  He uses the camera’s 2-way audio to tell the intruder to leave the building immediately, or the police will be called.  In the meantime, the officer ‘wakes up’ the second robot, and dispatches it to the compromised door – the second robot will wait there scanning the door for any motion, until it is told to go off duty. It doesn’t matter that the company called to re-secure the door won’t get there until morning, the door is now protected. The other robot continues its regular patrols looking for problems.

Are these stories science fiction?  No – they are stories illustrating how security robots earn their pay. even when that pay is little more than the electrical energy needed to power them. To stay up to date with the progress at Vigilant Robots, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

To learn more about other ways security robots earn their ‘pay’ check out our applications page.

Where’s your robot?  Ours are made in the USA by Vigilant Robots

(1) The auto-dock station will be available in July of 2014

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Security Robots do not get Furloughed

It is now 3 days into the ‘shutdown’ of the US Government. Around the country everyone is impacted by reduction in services. No, this is not going to be a rant about who is responsible, or who is to blame, but it is going to touch on the impacts of an unplanned reduction in available people.

One ‘service’ that can’t be reduced is keeping people safe and secure.  So, across the country security managers are struggling to do their jobs. This week it is the government shutdown, next week it might be a labor strike, or like here in Colorado, it could be due to natural events.  But one thing that must happen throughout the duration is that your clients, your customers, your co-workers, and all the people who put their trust in you when they walk through your front door must be kept safe and secure.

Here in Colorado, we are working on a triple play. In the last few weeks we saw unprecedented flooding that severely damaged our infrastructure. Tens of thousands of residents that normally had a 20 minute drive over scenic, paved, multi-lane roads during their daily commute down to the ‘flat-lands’ are now dealing with washed out bridges, hastily repaired dirt roads, and in some cases detours that force them up to 100 miles out of their way to get to work.

Philip Smith looks over a washed out bridge on 63rd Street outside Longmont on Sept. 14, 2013. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

Philip Smith looks over a washed out bridge on 63rd Street outside Longmont on Sept. 14, 2013. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

At the same time they are dealing with the personal impacts of the flooding: no power, no heat, even lack of water.  Is it any surprise that many of these workers simply cannot get to the daily job?

Add to that the government shutdown, and the impending six to twelve inches of snow expected in the mountains in the next two days, and you have a perfect storm (literally) for ‘reduced services.’  Security managers up and down the front range of Colorado are scrambling to cover shifts, maintain security, and do their jobs. We all know what that means: dedicated security officers pulling double shifts, or working extra on weekends. Officers that should be home in bed, sick as a dog, dragging themselves into work to do their jobs. And unfortunately, in many cases, security managers in triage mode, prioritizing schedules to cover important, high risk shifts, while offering ‘service reductions’ to lower risk sites and shifts, and desperately hoping that everything is quiet.

So, what to do?  One option is using security robots.  These robots stay on site, so regardless of the floods, the snow and the government shutdown they are ready to go to work.  They patrol the facilities at night, giving security managers the flexibility to maintain secure sites.   Security robots can free up human security officers to be rescheduled, reassigned, and shifted around to meet the needs of the day.  They can pull double shifts, night, after night, after night.  Give the Security Robot four to eight hours to recharge and they are right back on duty to pull another double.  They don’t get attention fatigue, they don’t get distracted,  they don’t have to balance the human needs of family, friends, and community during a disaster.  They simply keep doing their jobs.

Vigilus MCP security robot on Duty in Lobby

Vigilus MCP security robot on night patrol duty in Lobby

This flexibility is the answer to the security managers worst nightmare – the commitment to keep the people and facility safe and secure, while faced with insufficient resources to do the job. Of course, the security robot is not going to replace your front-line security officers. It won’t help comfort a lost child while looking for her mom.  It is not going to diplomatically suggest that the person setting up camp on the plaza needs to move off the property. But it will free up the officer doing those long, dull, midnight shift patrols; free them up to be able to handle the security tasks that should be handled by a person. It does this by handling those tasks that people aren’t good at, the ones that security officers don’t like doing, the ones that cause high levels of turn-over in your security team.  And if you need to juggle shifts, respond to an incident, or deal with the fall-out of a reduction in service, reassign the robot to handle the needs of the moment.  It won’t complain, it will just get to work, disciplined, focused, and Always Vigilant.

Where is your robot?(tm)  Ours are working nights and pulling double shifts – no furlough for Vigilant Robots!

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