Posts Tagged economics of robots
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
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
“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.
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 robot rolled along on its regular patrol. Down to the loading dock, through the shipping area, up and down the aisles of the warehouse that made up the bulk of its responsibility, and then along the north wall between the warehouse and the office area. The robot had already automatically adjusted its patrol route, because there were several large pallets awaiting shipment on Wednesday morning. These pallets had over $100,000 worth of custom product ready to go out to a key customer to meet a tight deadline, but the robot did not know that.
The robot also didn’t know that the loading dock door had jammed this morning. So all day the door repair guys had been hammering, welding, cutting away sections of track to get the door fixed by close of business. What nobody knew was that several chunks of red hot metal had landed in the sawdust from the packing area, and a small fire was slowly smoldering.
It wasn’t really midnight yet, but you know how the media will stretch the truth for a good headline. To be precise it was only 10:53 and 11.45 seconds. The robot is very precise.
As the robot rolled into the shipping area, the sensors of its FireWatcher™ system(1) detected an increase in combustion by-products. The robot slowed down and began to scan. Equipped with an advanced thermal sensor, it was reading 8 channels of temperature data three times a second, and it detected a slight temperature rise over by the newly repaired garage door. It quickly calculated the best path to get there and began zeroing in on the heat source.
It rolled closer, and the smoke sensors it carried started reading a level that crossed its alarm threshold. It also picked up the increased temperature , and it began detecting the combustible gasses associated with a smoldering fire. It went into fire alarm mode!
Electronic messages flew over the internet, to both the monitoring company and to Steve, the business owner. Along with the digital alarms, the robot sent video of the exact location of the small fire. Steve logged directly into the robot from his house 40 miles away, and could read the temperatures and smoke sensor levels, and see what the robot was sending in real time video. But he didn’t really need to worry about the numbers – the robot had detected a fire in the making, and he trusted the robot. The ceiling mounted smoke detectors hadn’t activated yet – it can take a while for the low levels of smoke to travel in a large warehouse. And, of course, if the fire got big enough the sprinkler systems would activate – saving the building but playing havoc with all the product on the warehouse shelves. As any professional fire fighter will tell you – the second best time to put out a fire is when it is really small. The best time is before it starts.
Steve talked with the monitoring company and they decided to activate the fire suppression system on the robot(2). While Steve sent the command to the robot, the monitoring center was coordinating with the local fire department and the trucks were on their way. The robot used its temperature sensors to position itself at the right distance from the fire, and triggered its on-board fire extinguisher. The foam doused the smoldering fire, after all it was aimed by a robot using advanced artificial intelligence to calculate the best application point. Before the fire department arrived the fire was out. As the fire trucks pulled up, the owner was on his way down to the building, and everything was under control.
So, in the end – no big headlines for the morning paper, no customer getting a call about a delayed shipment, and no need to activate the ‘business continuity’ plans. Wednesday would be just another day at work, except they were going to have a party in the break room for the robot.
Where is your robot?™ Ours are keeping lives and property safe! Learn more at Gamma 2 Robotics
(1) The FireWatcher™ system is not intended to replace any fire detection system required by local fire codes or insurance. It is an additional system that augments required systems. FireWatcher™ is an available option for all Vigilant series security robots.
(2) The fire suppression system is currently under development at Gamma 2 Robotics, and will be available soon. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay current with all the ongoing development.
We will do an educational talk about real world applications of mobile robotics in the security field – what is possible, and what is still science fiction. As experts in the field of Security Robotics we believe that it is critical to have the knowledge to separate the hype from the reality. This is key to making informed decisions about the real benefits of putting security robots to work.
We will be one session of several focusing on cutting edge technology and culminating with a presentation by the FBI on “FBI Security Technology as related to Investigations” By FBI Supervisor Patricia Sola.
So, if you are in the Kansas City area – this is the event to attend! If you are not in the KC area – you should get here for this event! Besides – we will have Gamma 2 Robotics Vigilant Mobile Security Robots on display!
Where is your robot? Ours will be invading Kansas City for the Physical Security Showcase in June!
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
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
Later this month, the Gamma 2 Robotics security robots will be at the upcoming Gartner CIO Leadership Forum. No, they are not switching professions. But, as the technology for securing critical corporate information becomes more sophisticated, it relies on the same infrastructure as the system it protects. Every byte of electronic information is written on a hard drive somewhere, whether it is in your dedicated server room, or in the cloud, and some CIO has the responsibility of protecting that data.
These advances mean that across the C-suite, more knowledge and understanding of the impacts and benefits of advanced security tech is needed. We will be one of a select group presenting to the CIO Leadership Forum, and talking with the CIO’s about the kind of technology they are going to be relying on to do their jobs well.
Where is your robot?® Ours will be chatting with world leading Chief Information Officers in Phoenix as part of the Gartner CIO leadership Forum.