I'm the Cognitive Systems Architect at Gamma Two Robotics. I've been designing and testing robots, and artificial intelligence applications for almost thirty years.
Lowes recently announced that they would be testing a robotic shop assistant in one of their smaller stores. The robot is designed to roam about the store and be available for both customers and employees to use for product look up, pricing and product location.
It is not really clear how well it will be accepted – that is why they are testing it. But some of the pundits have already weighed in – check out this clip from John Oliver’s (Last Week Tonight) show:
As funny as this parody is, there is serious interest in using this type of technology in retail. We have been deploying robots for years, our concern is the robot moving and working in a crowded store. Now, for night time security and patrol –
Where is your robot? Check out the Vigilant series robots from Gamma 2 Robotics
One of the questions I hear a lot is “How much is a Security Robot?” Of course, there is the simple answer that focuses on the retail price of the hardware, but that isn’t really what people are asking. What they want to know is what is the Total Cost of Ownership – what is it really goning to cost me to put one of these robots to work.
So, here is our analysis, based on feedback from various security professionals and other experts. Let me know what you think!
Total Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a key metric for evaluating the purchase of any new technology, and security robots are no exception. There are three main components to TCO: Initial investment, maintenance, and upgrades. In the case of a service, there may be a low initial investment, but the ‘maintenance’ costs are the ongoing service expenses, while in the case of a technology purchase the initial investment may be significant, and the ‘maintenance’ costs relatively small.
TCO Security robot
We will work under the following assumptions:
A base robot with a typical mix of option packages is purchased
A full service contract is added for the working life of the robot
A full software license and upgrade contract is in place for the life of the robot
The robot has a three year service life, after which it is disposed of at zero value.
These assumptions ignore any residual value at the end of service, and discount the possibility of an extended service life as a result of proper maintenance.
Of course, in isolation this TCO number has little meaning, so it is best to compare the TCO of this solution with the TCO of the alternatives. There are two alternatives that are frequently discussed: A security officer and a fixed camera array.
Since the security robot carries a camera, one of the most common candidates is an array of fixed cameras. In a typical installation, a single fixed camera can cover approximately 1000 sq ft, and can easily cost $1500 for installation, in addition this camera needs to be connected to a video management system and be monitored.
One security robot can typically patrol 50,000 square feet of warehouse or data center, so it would be necessary to install 50 cameras to cover the equivalent space. We also assume that the cameras will cost about $1.00 per month per camera for service and for software upgrades.
On the surface it seems that a camera array is roughly equivalent to a mobile security robot in total cost of ownership.
However this may be misleading. The cameras themselves provide excellent video records of what occurs in a facility, but (unless they are equipped with advanced video analytics) they do not generate alerts. This can leave the security client in the position of the owner of an e-cigarette / vape distributorship who arrived Monday morning to watch 6 hours of high definition video of a thief stealing over $300,000 worth of merchandise.
Adding real time video monitoring to a camera typically adds about $8.00 per month per camera to the TOC. In our example this adds $14,400 to the 3 year TCO bringing it up to $93,000.
Of course, when we talk about the comparison with a manned security patrol, the idea of Total Cost of Ownership is a little different. Rather than purchasing a security officer, this asset is rented – so we need to compare the cost of the officer over a specific time window. We will use the same three year window that was used to evaluate the TCO of the robots and the fixed camera systems.
We will also need to look at several other aspects of putting a security officer to work, costs like the recruitment and training, the ongoing Workman’s Comp and Medical costs, and the need for ongoing training, licensing, and testing. These all combine into the TCO of the security officer.
The base rate for the security officer is the most variable, depending on the location, the economy, and the requirements for specialized skills or background. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisitics, the average salary for an unarmed security guard is a little over $17.00 per hour, so we will use that number. In addition, since we are looking primarily at overnight security we will focus on a twelve hour shift.
Recruitment and on-boarding
Unlike a security system where a sales person seeks you out to convince you to buy a system, you have to recruit and train your security officers, or pay a recruiter to do much of the work for you. Either way there is a significant cost associated with putting a new employee to work.
Training, testing, and certifications
In addition, each employee is typically required to maintain certifications or licensing with ongoing trainings, and typically routine testing for polygraphs, drugs, and competency adds to the annual cost of the security officer.
Security officer TCO
Putting these individual costs together we get the results shown in the table below. While it is generally agreed that an alert, focused mobile security officer is the best asset in the security toolbox, it is also clear that this is the most expensive option.
|Recruiting and On-boarding||$5,000.00||$0.00||$5,000.00|
|Training, Testing, and Certification||$5,000.00||$3,000.00||$14,000.00|
So what it really comes down to is this – if a security robot is a viable solution for your security concerns it is the most cost effective solution you can deploy. Over a three year window, It can save tens of thousands over a camera array, and hundreds of thousands over a human security officer.
The mobile security robot brings a number a capabilities to the facility that the camera array cannot. Temperature, motion, explosive gass and smoke sensors. Mobile authentication provided by reading RFID and prox cards provide the ability to confirm access in both time and space. Much like the focused, alert mobile security officer.
Now, a security robot is not going to be viable in every situation. Our discussions with professionals suggest that 8% to 12% of the typical shifts might be suitable for a robot. It is not a one size fits all solution. But for that night shift mobile security patrol in a warehouse, shopping mall, or data center – it may be your best, your most cost effective solution.
Where is your robot? Ours are working through the night, keeping facilities safe and secure.
For more information about putting a security robot to work in your facility, contact us at Gamma 2 Robotics.
It’s early in the morning, and the news is disturbing. The stock markets are nervous following yesterday’s drop, and the futures are not encouraging. What does this have to do with security robots you ask? Great question!
Security managers have a tough job – the need to keep their business, their employees, and their facilities safe and secure. And they need to do it in a cost effective manner. Sometimes this can be at odds with other goals of the business, a competition for resources. And the economy impacts those resources.
When the economy looks shaky, when the stock markets look weak, businesses react, just as investors react. With the perceived increase in risk (whether the risk is real or not) businesses get conservative – they have to. And that usually means cutting costs – and security is perceived as a cost. So, a security manager may be looking at reduced operational budgets, and longer term capital expenses may be put on hold. In spite of this the security manager has to provide that safety and security with reduced resources.
This is the same for all the departments in the business, but security faces an additional challenge. Unlike many departments, as the economy gets weaker, the security threat increases. If unemployment rises the incidence of theft, break-ins, and damage increases. So the security manager has a growing problem to defend against at the same time that the resources are shrinking. It is not just a case of trying to do the same job on less money – the security manager needs to do a better, bigger job on a smaller budget.
This is where security robots enter the picture. The robotics industry thrives in tougher economic times. As budgets get cut, businesses have to look for innovative solutions that provide more bang for the buck. That is exactly what the robotics industry brings to its customers. We have seen this over and over as automation and robotics industries grow during recessions.
Imagine our security manager being told “You need to cut your budget for overnight patrols by 50%.” That means laying off people, there is no way around it. But the needs of the security function remain the same or increase. A security robot can work for less than 1/4 of the cost of the security officer who was laid off. That means putting two security robots to work and still meeting the 50% budget cut. Think about that – twice as many patrols for half the budget.
Now, these are robots – not people, they do not have the same judgment, the same intelligence, the same instincts. But for many overnight patrols what is needed are the sensors, the mobility, the ability to call in an alarm about an unusual condition. That is a job the robots can do hour after hour, night after night. They patrol, observe, and report to the human security officers – extending an officer’s reach, giving her the ability to be in two, or three, or four places at once.
So while we watch the fluctuations of the markets, you know that there have to be a lot of worried Security Managers, but some of them are asking the right question – “Where is my robot?”
For more information about the Gamma 2 Robotics and the Vigilant Security robots check out our website
Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2014
“Integrated guarding” or “Integrated Guard Services” seems to be the hot new concept in the physical security industry. The marriage of traditional Patrol, Observe, Report with technology to Monitor and Alarm.
Here is a great look at the potential impact of increasing use of technology on the future of the job market for security officers: Will Technology Eliminate Human Security Guards? by Courtney Sparkman
More about this topic to follow on Monday!
“Okay, Bob,” Shelley said ” I think I get the idea of what this security robot can do. I’ll want to learn more about how it does it, but that can wait. What I want to know first is what is involved in putting one of these robo-officers to work?”
“I know, Shelley – you are worried that it will be really disruptive, or that you will have to change your current operations to get the benefits, right?”
“Exactly! Like many businesses we are running lean and mean, that means changes are risky – they could result in lost opportunities or cause the team to get out of sync. I can’t afford that,” Shelley replied.
“Well, let me tell you what is involved. It is a pretty simple process, and you are in a perfect position to move forward!
“How is that?” Shelley asked.
“Putting a security robot to work is usually a six step process, but since we just did a recent security review most of the hard work is already done. I told you that putting a security robot to work is a lot like putting a security officer to work, you have already got a head start.”
“Do you have a few minutes for another video?” Bob asked?
Shelley said “Sure, but we really should have made popcorn!”
Bob ran a short video about putting a robot to work:
“So you see Shelley, it is a six step process:
- Learn the Facility,
- Learn the Tasks,
- Verify Knowledge,
- Go To Work,
- Confirm Value
but, we have already done most of the first step.”
“Bob, I really like the focus on the value to my company. I sometimes feel that is the last thing many of my other vendors are thinking about. Let me see if I understand. The security robot is designed to do routine patrols overnight, when the building is locked up. On these patrols it is constantly scanning for possible problems – intruders, fire, smoke, leaking water…”
“Yes, but you do have to add option packages for some of those sensors,” Bob interjected.
“Right, but that is good because I can tailor the sensors to match my needs,” Shelley continued, “And if we get an alarm from the security system, we can dispatch the robot so that we know what is going on, before we have to call the cavalry. And we do this by giving the robot the layout of the building, and teaching it the various patrol patterns, as well as what conditions should cause it to generate an alarm. There is no tape on the floor, I don’t have to install beacons or barcodes or RFID tags all over the place.”
Bob smiled, “Exactly! The robot is designed to work like a human security officer – they learn what you want them to do and then they do it, over and over again.”
“And no vacations, no sick time, no coffee breaks! I like this idea. So, lets talk about the next steps….”
Shelley and Bob began Step 1 – planning how to get the maximum value from the new security robot.
Where is your Robot? – Contact Gamma 2 Robotics and put your new American made Vigilant security robot to work today!
A recent report from Business Insider Intelligence projects explosive growth of over 17% CAGR for the
service robotics markets. We all see the headlines of major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google investing in the robotics and AI markets – this is just part of the story.
What is changing?
BI suggests that robots need 4 core capabilities to break out of the factory floor: Mobility, Navigation, Perception and the ability to Manipulate objects.
These 4 core abilities are becoming available on robots now, and businesses are screaming for the resulting robots.
Here is the complete article.
Where is your robot?™ Ours are doing dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs so that people don’t have to.
Learn more at Gamma 2 Robotics or call 303-778-7400
“Okay Bob, what do you mean by a Security Robot?”
“It is pretty cool, actually,” Bob replied “It is a mobile robot that will patrol your facility all night. It monitors the space for intruders, motion, and (if you add some option packages) smoke, fire and explosive gas.”
Shelley looked a little dubious. “You are saying that this thing will patrol my warehouse just like a person, and spot problems? Like those robots the police use during bomb threats?”
She paused, then said “Bob, like I just told you I am trying to cut my budget – I can’t pay some robot technician to run this thing all night – that would cost a fortune!”
“No Shelley – I heard you! These robots are autonomous – that means that you just turn them on and tell them to get to work. They don’t need an operator, they do their patrols on their own. So you don’t have a robot tech driving them around at all.” Bob continued “And they are really cost effective – Right now your night-shift officer is costing you about $17.00 an hour – a little below the national average.”
Shelley interrupted “Bob I know that you are providing us with top quality people and I have heard what some of my business colleagues are paying for their security.”
“Thanks Shelley, that is good to hear – but the good news is these robots work for the equivalent of around $4.00 an hour.”
“Sure, Bob, but that’s if I amortized the cost over, like twenty years or something. The up-front costs will kill me.”
Bob laughed – “Shelley, the total cost of putting one of these to work is less than one year’s salary equivalent, the $4.00 per hour is based on 3 years. And I will ‘rent’ you the robot, just like I am ‘renting’ you the current security team!”
“Wait, you are telling me I don’t have to go to some company I never heard of before and trust them with my business, my life? I can keep working with you and your team?”
Bob reached for his laptop, “Shelley, let me show you this quick video, it’s about three and a half minutes, you can see the robots in action and it covers a lot of the background.” Shelley and Bob settled down to watch the video. Shelley said – “Bob, I should have made some popcorn!”
“Okay, Bob,” Shelley said after the video ended, “this is starting to sound too good to be true. But, I remember a robot they put to work at one of our client’s offices. It took them weeks to put the weird tape on the floors, and they had to rearrange the layout of the furniture. The robot did it’s job, but the set-up was awful. I simply can’t put up with that level of disruption.
“No problem – Shelley, let me explain how easy it is …
Part 3 – putting a robot to work…
Where is your robot?™ – ours are going to work to keep people and property safe and secure.
For more info, contact us at Gamma 2 Robotics or call 303-778-7400
“Bob, I have to cut costs – I simply cannot afford to have a security officer on duty full time.”
Bob looked across the desk at Shelley, his long time client. He started to marshal the arguments about the value, how security is not a cost, the need for safety. Shelley continued, “I know your officers do a great job, and I agree with the arguments about investments versus costs, but I simply have to cut the budget. What can you offer me that is cheaper?”
Bob asked – “Shelley, is it about the money, or is there some problem with the team? We can bring other…” Shelley interrupted “No Bob, we love your people – they are focused; they’re attentive; they do a great job! Frankly, I wish I could hire more people like your officers. But I have to cut the budget.”
“Okay, how much are we talking about? Maybe we can reduce the hours, or cut out some of the weekend coverage? It wouldn’t be ideal, but it would cut costs some.”
“Bob, I have to cut the budget a lot – I don’t think trimming a few hours here or there is going to make it. What else can you offer me?”
“Well, the next step down is a drive by every couple of hours – we have well equipped cars and they do a complete perimeter sweep, and can typically respond in under 10 minutes.”
“Bob, we talked about that last year,” Shelley replied, “I don’t think that will work – we have an adjoining wall, with Acme, which you can’t see from outside. I have nightmares about that break in last month where the thief cut through the common wall. I have millions of dollars of cutting-edge high-tech electronics in the warehouse.”
“Shelley, I have an idea – you have high-tech products, right? And you built up a cutting-edge 21st century technology business right?”
“Yeah! I like to think our company defines the envelope of high technology.”
“Shelley, what about a robot? An autonomous, mobile, security robot to do the night shift patrols? It will patrol, check for fire, smoke, intruders, movement, water – what ever you need.”
“Bob, get serious – this isn’t a science fiction movie”
“No Shelley, it’s not – but it is the 21st century! We have deployed tested, commercially available security robots for situations just like yours. The robots act as mobile security, doing patrols just like our officers, and when they detect a problem they send an alert to our mobile supervisors who can respond within minutes.”
“Okay, maybe these robots exist – but I’m trying to cut costs not spend a million dollars on a robot.”
“Shelley, you are going to love this – I can put one to work in the plant for under half what your current security officers cost.”
“Bob, this is starting to sound good – better than good, it sounds cool! Tell me how this would work….”
Continued in part 2: “What do you mean by a ‘Security Robot’?”:
Where is your robot?™ Ours are cutting costs and improving security
Learn more at Gamma 2 Robotic
G4S, the world’s largest provider of security officers, announced that they have a security robot patrolling their offices. Way to go!
Thumbs Up: University of Birmingham
The students at the University of Birmingham should be justly proud of their accomplishment. We know how hard it is to develop a security robot to patrol complex spaces like offices and warehouses – after all we’ve been doing that for almost five years.
Also Kudos to G4S – they are thought leaders in the security field, and they are moving forward by participating in a $12.5 million 5 year project to develop security robots.
Thumbs Up: G4S
The industry knows that the world needs 21st century security, and G4S is stepping forward. This pro-active step by G4S to address the increasing challenges of the physical security industry is a praiseworthy one. In February of 2014, Mark McCourt – publisher of Security Magazine, said in an editorial: “Look out Securitas, G4S, AlliedBarton… get on board with robots functioning as security officers.” G4S is moving into the future.
As the costs of training, ACA, and minimum wages continue to grow; and as the demands for increased physical security push the limits of the available workforce – something will have to change. G4S_UK is in the leadership position of defining the future of security by taking active steps today.
Thumbs Down: Gamma 2 Robotics
At Gamma 2 Robotics, we clearly deserve a thumbs down for not doing a better job educating the market about the value of using security robots as the newest tool to augment your existing security programs.
As a small hi-tech start-up robotics company, G2R hasn’t shouted loud enough to catch the attention of the major security providers with its commercially viable security robots ready for action.
With a $4.00/hr. cost to operate, Gamma 2 Robotics provides a new alternative to the traditional security officer. These robots are tested, reliable and ready to operate completely ‘hands free’ in your customers’ warehouses, data centers and commercial buildings.
They say the best day in the security business is when nothing happens – our robots are wide awake and focused while they keep patrolling night after night in the dark during all those dull and boring assignments. But rest assured if something does happen they will be ready to respond with timely accurate incident notifications.
So, give me a call and put a robot to work on your security team.
Where’s your Robot?™ – Ours are ready, willing, and able to got to work for you tonight!
Contact Gamma 2 Robotics, or call +1.303.778.7400 today.
It was the best of heists, it was the worst of heists.
The victim is E-Cigarettes Wholesale, and they supply ‘e-cigarettes’ to almost 1200 retailers nation-wide. As a result, they warehouse hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of easily sellable, high demand products.
The best of heists!
This is what actually happened on the evening of Sunday, June 15th in Dania Beach, Florida, USA. At around 6pm, a thief breaks into an auto repair business in a multi-tenant building on Tigertail Boulevard. The auto shop doesn’t have much in the way of security, but the e-cig warehouse next door does. They do everything right – cameras, door sensors, passive IR motion detectors covering the access points, covering the windows, covering the doors.
The thief knows this, the theory is that he had checked the place out on an earlier visit. So, he doesn’t come in through the doors, or the windows. He breaks in through the common wall from the auto repair shop next door. He cuts a hole through the two layers of dry-wall and goes to work. He stayes away from the PIR motion detectors around the front of the warehouse, and as a result no alarms are sent to the monitoring center.
The cameras catch almost every move he makes, they dutifully record the thief for almost six hours as he loads over $300,000 worth of product into his truck, parked in the auto shop. The video record will be great, after the fact, but tonight they just silently record.
The thief makes around fifty thousand dollars an hour for tonight’s work.
The first thing anyone knows of the break-in is Monday morning, long after the thief is gone, long after the merchandise is stolen. It was the best of heists.
The Worst of Heists
Let’s roll the cameras back to the Sunday afternoon, and make one change. The thief still shows up at six pm, and breaks into the auto repair shop next door. He still pulls in his truck and gets to work tearing down the dry-wall between the two businesses. He knows where the motion detectors are, since they are mounted to the walls. What he doesn’t know is where the security robot¹ is on its nightly patrol.
Because this time, the manager has added a mobile security robot to his security system. It goes to work when the manager closes up shop and sets the alarm. It patrols the warehouse area, looking for motion, looking for intruders all night long, all weekend² long. And when it detects a problem, it doesn’t just record the video – it sends the alarm into the monitoring center. It also checks for smoke, fire, high humidity, but tonight that doesn’t matter.
So, when the thief breaks through the last layer of dry-wall and looks into the darkened warehouse, he sees the flickering blue light of the robot on patrol, he sees the red glow of its sensors as it moves across the warehouse floor, and he knows that this break-in is not going to go well. The robot detects the intruder and immediately sends an alert to the monitoring center. It activated its high intensity LED headlights, and transmits close-up, well lit, high definition video of the thief as he pulls his head back through the hole in the wall, and scrambles for his truck, empty handed. The police have already been dispatched to the warehouse, but the robot has done its job, the business owner’s livelihood, his inventory, is safe.
So at worst, the business owner needs to repair the wall, rather than try to replace nearly half a million dollars worth of stock. She doesn’t have to call up her best customers and tell them they are out of luck, they are not going to be able to restock their shelves for a while.
Actually, it is even simpler than that. When the thief was checking out the warehouse last week – he saw the sign in the front window “Protected by Security Robots” and he decided to take his business somewhere else, someplace less well protected.
It was the best of heists,
it was the worst of heists,
it was the age of static security,
it was the age of mobile security robots…..
Where is your Robot?™ Ours are helping businesses stay in business.
Learn more about the Gamma 2 Robotics line of Security Robots, and see if one is right for your critical security needs. If you want to discuss how easy it is put put a security robot to work, give us a call at 303-778-7400
- The robot is described with several option packages installed
- Requires the optional self-charging docking station, available in September of 2014