Archive for category robo-economics
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.
“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
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
Gamma 2 Robotics is running a robot road show this week in LA. Contact us to set up an appointment to meet the security robots, and discuss the impacts of robotics on safety and security.
We will be presenting the capabilities and the economics of adding robots to your current security tool box, and also discussing how to put a security robot to work for your company or your security clients today!
Day one went extremely well, lots of great demos and great discussions. After a hard days work, the robot took time to chill on the balcony:
Live demonstrations are the best way to see if a security robot is a good prospect for your next new security officer!
Drop me a line using this form, to set up a meeting.
Where is your robot? One of ours is waiting to meet you in Los Angeles June 16th – 19th. Call me for details and to set up a private demonstration of the security industry’s hottest new product!
The teenager was good, there is no question about his skills. He used both his physical dexterity and his social engineering skills to the max, and ended up standing on the top of the 1,776 foot tall, iconic, World Trade Center in the New York City night.
Given the extensive symbolic value of this building, and the likelihood of it becoming a major terrorism target, we need to ask “What happened to the security?” And, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to prevent a repeat by someone less interested in accomplishment and more interested in destruction?
Unfortunately, for many aspects of the security officer’s job, people are not really suited to the tasks. Let’s look at this incident, and see what a difference a robot might make. As we know from the news reports, Justin allegedly first gained access to the site by climbing through a hole in the fence protecting the perimeter of the building site.
Failure #1: Focus
There were security officers responsible for perimeter intrusion detection, but on a complex and extensive building site things are constantly changing, and for a person that change can be overwhelming. So, slowly over time, the humans become numb to the changes, and numb to the problems. Robots, with advanced artificial intelligence, never lose focus, and are designed to track details. An outdoor security robot tasked with perimeter patrol will continuously scan 24/7 and any potential breaches are reported immediately. They will continue to be reported on every shift, until they are fixed. Robots don’t care about the weather, or how many times they have looked at that part of the fence, they Patrol, Observe, and Report every time.
In this incident, From a CNN report:
Authorities said Justin Casquejo early Sunday allegedly climbed through a 1-foot opening in a fence surrounding the still-under-construction skyscraper, past “do not enter” and “no trespassing” signs and, apparently undetected, got to the scaffolding around the building and started climbing.
Failure #2: Social Engineering
Once he climbed the scaffolding, he gained access on the 6th floor. Much of the security for operational building is focused on the ground floor and underground entrances, not a window 60 feet up the side of the building, but what happened next is a classic intrusion scheme, and it depends on people behaving like people. Then Justin allegedly put on a hard hat and walked calmly to the tower elevator and pressed the up button. When the doors opened, and he saw that the elevator was occupied, he simply stepped in, like he was supposed to be there, and pressed the button for the 88th floor.
He rode the tower lift and, according to the New York Post, donned a hardhat to appear as one of the construction workers working on site. Casquejo was reportedly allowed on the elevator up to the 88th floor by a “clueless union elevator operator” despite not having proper identification. (from International Business Times)
People see what they expect to see, we can’t help it – our brains are hard-wired to make quick judgments on little data. Perhaps, the operator of the elevator saw a young person, self assured, looking like they were on a task for their boss, and thought no more about it.
Had there been a security robot in the elevator (yes, they ride elevators just like anyone else, at least ours can) it would have detected that a person got on the elevator and immediately scanned for an ID badge. When it got no response from the RFID chip in the badge, it would have immediately sent in an alert. Robots do not make assumptions, robots always verify.
But in this case, the operator saw what they expected to see, a young worker doing his job. If they didn’t see an ID it was just because it wasn’t in sight – not that the intruder didn’t have one. So the intruder got off on 88 and climbed the stairs to the 104th floor, with just one more hurdle to jump.
Failure #3: Attention
I spent years as a security officer, and one of the biggest problems is staying attentive. Most days nothing ever happens: it is an amazingly, massively boring task to sit, 1000 feet up in a building waiting for something to happen. It is so boring that one’s attention flags, one’s thoughts wander, and that is what an intruder counts on.
The stories vary, in some reports the security guard was asleep, in other reports the guard was described as “inattentive”. In either case that guard was suffering from attention fatigue, and his guard dropped long enough for the intruder to get through.
Robots never fall asleep, security robots never become inattentive. At the first instant that the intruder’s motion was detected, the robot would have raised the alarm, and bells would have been ringing, beepers would have been beeping, and the entire security team would know that something was wrong up on the 104th floor. The robot would have provided real-time video of exactly who was there, and what they were up to. And while the human members of the security team responded to the incident, the robotic member of the team would keep feeding information to the Security Operations Center.
And we would not be reading headlines about the Teenager who outwitted the security at the New York World Trade Center, and climbed to the stars.
There are good, solid economic reasons that everyone is talking about robots taking away jobs. And there are good, solid reasons that the job of a Security Officer is near the top of everyone’s list. At Gamma 2 Robotics, we see security robots as part of the security team, the part that you can depend on to do the ‘dull, dirty, and dangerous’ tasks; and do those tasks consistently, reliably, and well. In this case, it was only a teenager proving something to himself and the world. But what if it had been someone with a far more destructive agenda?
Where is your robot? Ours are out protecting property and lives.
For more information about Vigilant security robots contact Gamma 2 Robotics.
(1) Under development at Gamma 2 Robotics
Gamma 2 Robotics is packing up robots for the upcoming ISC/W security show in Las Vegas. This is the home of what is new in security – and security robots are the future!
We will be running demonstrations of our security robots and showing off the newest modules, like our FireWatcher package for smoke and fire detection. Come by Booth 2122 and see the future of security!
If you would like a free exhibits access pass, send us a request using this form.
Where is your robot?® Ours are getting shipped to the ISC/west security show
For more information please visit Gamma 2 Robotics
Over the last six months, robots have been everywhere.
Well, not literal robots, but the news, the web, the economic journals all have been talking about robots:
- CBS News: Google buys eight robotics companies;
- CNN: Amazon promising us 30 minute delivery via robotic drone; or
- Forbes: Phew, The Robots Are Only Going To Take 45 Percent Of All The Jobs
- Bloomberg: Your job taught to machines…
Robots have caught our attention. But why, and why now?
I think we find ourselves at the corner (forgive the alliteration) of Cost, Capability, and Culture and all three of these combine to make robotics the enabler for the foreseeable future. In academic terms, they are both necessary and sufficient.
Cost is a big factor. When industrial automation was first available the cost of an arm ran as high as the equivalent of 10 years salary for an unskilled laborer. This made the payback/ROI a hard sell. Only when the cost dropped into the 2-3 year equivalent did industrial automation take off. To be fair for some specialized applications, the precision and safety were drivers, but for mainstream applications the cost was the driver.
Today, we are seeing robots being adopted outside the factory floor, and they don’t cost $250K, or even $100K – service robots are in the $20K to $75K range, due to the availability of low cost components and, interestingly, the cost savings from robotic manufacturing. So the ROI drops to 1 to 2 years for many jobs that can be automated.
That brings us to the second ‘C” Capability. Over the last 10 years there have be major strides forward in the ability of the software to control an autonomous robot alongside people. As you probably know, in industrial automation the robots are kept behind cages and wire walls – because it is not safe for people to be around them. It was in 1979 that the first human worker was killed by an industrial robot. Since then OSHA and other regulatory agencies have tightened the restriction on allowing people near industrial robots.
Today, the software and control theories have made it possible to safely interact with these robots, and the robots have enough brain power to reason about the world and complete complex tasks, such as security, bar-tending, and so on. Without the capability to do these tasks well, we, as a culture, will simply not accept them. As I have said in an earlier post “Robots must earn their pay”
So here is the final ‘C’: Culture. Over the last 20 years or so we have seen a growing acceptance of robots in the culture. More and more movies (what better indicator of cultural memes?) feature friendly robots (Wall-E, Johnny-5, R2D2, the good Transformers) instead of evil robots bent on world domination. People are starting to look at robots as helpers, assistants, and useful tools. At Gamma 2 Robotics we ask people Where is your robot?® and they are not frightened, they are excited by the prospects.
Tomorrow’s Robots Today
So all three C’s are coming together: The robots now have the capabilities to do the tasks we want them to do; the robots are becoming available at a cost point that makes it economically feasible to put them to work; and as a culture we are now looking for them to do the jobs.
We are on the cusp of major changes in how we work and how we work with robots. Google, Amazon, and Apple are all leading the way, but it is the small companies that are producing the robots that are going to change our world. Will there be hiccups along the way, yes there will. But the world of tomorrow is going to be built by robots doing the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs.
Where is your robot?® Ours are hard at work making the world a better place.
For more information check out Gamma 2 Robotics or call +1-303-778-7400