Posts Tagged business models

Robots invade ISC/West

Vigilant Security Robot exiting elevator

Vigilant Security Robot exiting elevator

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



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The Robot and the Shoplifter

Steve arriving at work. Not an employee - a shoplifter.

Steve arriving at work. Not an employee – a shoplifter.

Steve barely glanced upwards as he strode through the doors of the local office retailer. He deliberately didn’t ‘notice’ the greeter at the shopping carts, Steve looked like he was a man on a mission. Not one of those laid-back shoppers, he gave the impression of someone who wanted to get in, get what he was looking for, and get out with the minimum hassle. And that is exactly the image he wanted to convey.

He didn’t look up at the security cameras in the ceiling, he had scoped those out on an earlier visit. So, he went straight back to the electronics section. He stayed away from the really high end products, instead he went to the mid-range stuff, under a hundred dollars, and hit the digital recorders, all sealed up in bulky plastic clam-shells, with RFID tags attached. He checked the locations of the clerks, blocked the view of the overhead camera with his body, and deftly slit the bottom of the clam-shell on his target. He didn’t remove anything yet, he just cut open the bottom of the package.  Then, with his hands clearly empty, he walked down the aisle to look at flash drives.  He sorted through a couple, while he waited to see if anyone was going to respond to his preparations.

At this point the hard work was done, he would just walk back, block the camera again, and with a quick twist, slip the recorder into his hand, and into his waistband; leaving the empty package and the RFID tag on the rack. Easy-peasey.  Then he’d shake his head, look disgusted and walk out – if anyone asked he’d explain that they didn’t have the model he wanted, and he would order it from the online store.

A robot on patrol

Security robots cannot be ‘socially engineered’ and stay focused on their assigned tasks.

Then things went wrong – wrong from Steve’s perspective. The Security Robot came around the corner of the aisle, and stopped – looking at Steve. It was about five feet tall, and moved quietly on rubber wheels. It had a camera on top pointed right at Steve. This camera was not in the ceiling several aisles away, it was within 10 feet and Steve knew that a perfect image of his face was already recorded. He also knew that he didn’t know anything about the other capabilities of this security robot. The fact that he didn’t know made the risks too high.

Was a facial recognition program already scanning through thousands of stored images, looking for him? He had heard that they did this in Vegas, and you would get busted before you made it past the door. Was the robot already radioing a human security officer, who would be waiting up front?  Could the security robot scan his pulse and respiration to detect his stress levels?  Steve just didn’t know, and not knowing was enough to stop his plan in its tracks.

Steve abandoned his plan to rip-off this store, and started walking towards the front. The robot rolled along behind him.  Was it following him even now? Steve simply didn’t know and that convinced him to move faster. As he left the electronics section, the security robot turned and went back on patrol. “That thing is just too damn smart,” thought Steve. And he mentally crossed this store off his ‘hit list’.  “Better safe than arrested,” he said to himself.

Theft from retail stores amounts to 35 million dollars a day according to some studies, and is a leading cause of losses to retail businesses. Hundreds of millions more are spent on theft resistant packaging, RFID tags, and other forms of theft prevention. But it is generally agreed that deterrence is the best solution – keep the thieves out in the first place.  We are working on our “Retail Loss Prevention” option package for our award winning security robots, to aid in the reduction of these types of thefts.

For more information about our advanced security robots, contact Vigilant Robots at 303-778-7400

Where is your robot?® Ours are made in the USA to reduce crime and keep people safe!

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The Loop in the Robot

We undertook a tricky task – create a security robot that can do its job, on its own, for a full eight hour shift. Of course, the vast majority of those security shifts are boring and routine – in fact deadly dull. That is what makes them hard for a person to do well, and ideal for a machine. But security is really needed when things aren’t routine, when things stop being boring, when things go wrong. That is when you have to have intelligent, correct responses to the incident, and you have to have them now. Unfortunately, that kind of intelligent, situationally-aware response is exactly what machines are not good at.

Unless they have been designed from the ground up to provide that kind of response. To respond appropriately to an incident there are four key capabilities(1):

The OODA loop pioneered by John Boyd

The OODA loop pioneered by John Boyd

  • The ability to detect a potential problem – Observe,
  • The ability to recognize what is going on – Orient,
  • The ability to determine the ‘appropriate’ response, and – Decide
  • The ability to execute the response -Act.

These four capabilities must be resident in the robot, it can’t rely on having a human doing all the work, otherwise it doesn’t provide the force multiplier effect that is needed.  After all, if you have to keep a person around the ‘drive’ the robot, you haven’t gained, you’ve actually lost.  Instead of having a security officer doing his or her rounds, you now need a highly trained (and highly paid) robot technician on staff 24/7 just in case the robot has to deal with a security incident.

Let’s set the scene. A shopping mall in the middle of the night.  Things have been quiet, as they usually are. About four hours ago, the security officer told the robot to run the normal night patrols for its entire eight hour shift.  After that the officer was free to attend to other duties.

Now, if we were running an assembly robot in an industrial setting, that would be it. In that kind of tightly controlled environment all that is needed is a simple, fixed program because nothing is allowed to ‘disrupt’ the robots.  But in a human environment, you can’t have that level of control.  Unlike a robot, people never do the same thing twice in the same way.

So early in the evening the robot detected that a mop bucket had been left in a service corridor, and four things happened:  The robot detected an obstacle, determined that it was a typical item, figured out how to get around the obstacle, and then executed the appropriate behavior. All in a nights work. Later, things get more complicated – and that is why the robot needs to be intelligent.

Robot patrolling the receiving dock, and monitoring changing temperatures.

Robot patrolling the receiving dock, and monitoring changing temperatures.

While the robot was on patrol, the security officer got a door alarm from near the loading dock.  This could be nothing, or it could be trouble.  She dispatched a command to the robot – “Stop the patrol and get to the East Loading Dock.”  The robot now has to figure out the best way to get from where it is right now to the loading dock, and factor in the information learned during the shift. The most direct route would use the service corridor that is blocked by the mop bucket, so come up with the best clear path, and get moving!

At every moment the robot is in the loop: planning the best action, predicting the outcome, executing the action, comparing the results with the prediction, and then planning again.  This allows the system to respond appropriately to the situation at all times.  If it encounters another obstacle on the way to the loading dock, it has to know more than the fact that there is an obstacle. If this a box int the way, the robot just goes around it. But if this obstacle is an intruder the robot needs to behave completely differently, turning on strobes and sirens and sending an alert to the command center.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ response – the correct action must be determined from the circumstances – just like a well trained human would do.

If a robot is going to work with people, and if people with critical jobs are going to rely on that robot, the robot needs to be intelligent and autonomous to hold up its part of the bargain.

Where is your robot?® Ours are made in the USA and are distributed by Vigilant Robots.

For more information, check out our monthly newsletter, or contact us.

(1) Based on the OODA Loop. pioneered by fighter pilot John Boyd in the 1950’s

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Robots and Spaceships and Storms -Oh My!

Last week I did an interview with Greg Moore the Editor-in-Chief of the Denver Post – we covered the gamut from the impacts of service robots on the economy, to space travel, and tornado chasing. It was a fun discussion sparked by a conversation at the Denver Press Club. Here is a link to the interview.

20131120- Interview between Greg Moore, Editor of the Denver Post, and Jim Gunderson, CTO of Gamma two Robotics.

20131120- Interview between Greg Moore, Editor of the Denver Post, and Jim Gunderson, CTO of Gamma two Robotics.

To learn more about our Security Robots, and applications in warehouse, shopping mall, and data center protection, visit us at Vigilant Robots.

Where’s your robot?®

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Robot Cowboys?

These robots work with the herd:




A quick link to a story (with Video) from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics about using robots to herd dairy cows.

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Brick-laying robot on the job site in Victor NY

As we develop robots with more capabilities we find more and more jobs outside the factory floor that can be handled (in part) by robots.

Construction Robotics' brick-laying robot SAM, or the Semi-Automatic Mason, places bricks on wall of new construction in Victor. / KATE MELTON

Construction Robotics’ brick-laying robot SAM, or the Semi-Automatic Mason, places bricks on wall of new construction in Victor. / KATE MELTON

Check out this video of the Semi-Autonomous Mason (SAM) brick-laying robot at work!  3000 bricks a day!

It only does part of the job, and requires supervision as well as the human touch to follow up.  But it means that a mason can produce more and better work by working with the robot as a tool, than working alone.

As I discussed in an earlier post Robots need to ‘earn their pay’ to be effective. This often means taking over the dull, dirty, or dangerous parts of a job, to enable the people to focus on what people do best.

Where is your robot?® Ours are proudly made in the USA by Vigilant Robots

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Will robots really change everything?

A recent article on the new EU funded “Human Brain Project”

Of course the US recently completed the “Decade of the Brain” with limited results,

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A long strange trip

We just returned from a robotics exhibition in San Diego. That was not the long strange trip I had in mind however.  Okay, the robot (Vigilus-MCS) that we brought along had a long strange trip – including a short stop by the security team at the Hoover Dam, but I was thinking more about the trip that we began about 4 years ago, when we started on the current robot platform. The philosophy at Gamma Two has never been tightly aligned with the current trends in research. We are not big on large, all encompassing theoretical research. We focus on solving real-world problems. Sometimes that means we need to do cutting edge theoretic research to come up with the solutions.

The Vigilus Robot on the demonstration site during site set-up

The Vigilus Robot on the demonstration site during site set-up

We were driven by a question when we started this project: “Why don’t we have robots working along side us every day?”  Or, to put it more simply “Where’s my robot?” That led to several years of theoretic research, which culminated in two things. The second was our technical book “Robots, Reasoning, and Reification,” which summarizes the open problem that stood between us and functional robot co-workers. The book outlines a theoretic solution to the problem. I suppose that we could have stopped there.

But, like I said, we are out of step with the pure research community.  We knew that this was the case, since we have been active members of the Performance Metrics for Intelligent Systems (PerMIS) community for over a decade. This conference is run by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), they have an interest in measuring the ‘intelligence’ of intelligent systems. For the last several years, Louise and I have been on the program committee for this conference. Every year we would be part of a group of researchers pushing the limits of what we know about making computer and robotic systems smart. We would see dozens of new and untested theories every year. But, we weren’t willing to propose a theoretic solution, unless we knew that it worked.

So, the first thing that came out of the years of research was a functioning robotic brain, one that enabled the robot to see the world in a way that is similar to the way living systems see the world, and reason about the world in a way that is similar to the way living systems reason about the world.  Of course the brain wasn’t complete, but we had a ‘proof of concept’ prototype that people could work with. It didn’t do much, but it did things in the right way. There’s a short video of the robot updating its model of the world, and keeping track of objects. This was done in November of 2008, and shows the first generation proof of concept robot. When I compare that system with the robot we took to San Diego, I realize just how long a trip it has been.

Up to this trip we have been focused on researching the theory of robotics, then the practicality of developing a robot.  Then we spent enormous amounts of time and energy looking for money to fund the R&D. But we turned a corner this month, a big corner for the business.  We were invited to pitch our company to the assembled investors of the Angel Capital Summit, put on by the Rockies Venture Club.  We were also selected as one of six companies to present “cutting edge technology” in ground robotics to the buyers at the NDIA Ground Robotics Conference an Exhibition.  They both occurred on the same days, last week. The same days that the PerMIS 2012 conference was running.

This is where the long strange trip really became apparent. Five years ago, there would have been no question, we would have been trading ideas with some of the best researchers into machine intelligence in the world. Two years ago, we would have been pitching our hearts out to a group of investors, in hopes that one of them might be interested in becoming part of the ‘next big thing’.  This year there was no question, we were going to be presenting our robots to the people who can buy them and put them to work, making lives better.

Like I said, it has been a long, strange trip.

Where’s your robot? Ours are being built by Gamma Two Robotics, here in Colorado.

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