How robots can be used to augment security

How robots can be used to augment security
From time to time, security can become quite mundane. Doing routine work such as patrolling or doing rounds at facilities can cause security guards to become tired or bored. Using robotics to optimize an end user organization’s security workforce, therefore, becomes a viable alternative.
 
That was the point raised by Knightscope during an interview at ISC West. The company develops self-navigating robots that help secure a diverse range of end user organizations including hospitals, shopping malls, corporations, airports and warehouses.
 
Stacy Dean Stephens, VP of Marketing and Sales at Knightscope, explains why the company developed the robots in the first place. “One of the problems in security is being able to gain actionable intelligence through any means. The actual catalyst for this particular project was the Sandy Hook shootings. We were looking for a way to supplement the way that schools were gaining intelligence. We decided robots would probably be the best mechanism to do that. They can run around on their own, and they can act as a payload for additional sensors onboard,” he said.
 
According to Stephens, robots can address problems associated with human-based security work. “The biggest limitation humans have is the ability to focus on boring, repetitive jobs. If you backfill that with a machine that doesn't get bored, doesn’t fall asleep and doesn't get distracted easily … you give those boring jobs to the robot. Then you allow the humans to do the strategic work, interpret data and respond to something more effectively,” he said.

Hardware and software combination

 
The robots Knightscope developed are self-navigating, thanks to sensors including LIDAR, lasers and sonar. For surveillance, the robots are equipped with cameras as well as embedded intelligence. “There are built-in analytics to recognize license plates. Also I can tell there is a human figure there. We can geo-fence a restricted area; that way, if someone is in a specific area where they should not be, it will send an alert back,” Stephens said. “We actually wrote the algorithm that’s able to detect what an object is. And we also have a feedback loop so our clients are able to look at the alerts they get, and if for some reason they get a false alert, they can actually input that into the system so it doesn’t make the mistake again.”
 
The company develop different robots ranging from the more entry-level stationary ones, to indoor robots used in malls and warehouses, to those suitable for large outdoor spaces including corporate campuses and parking lots. “For outdoor applications you are going to have a remote parking area where the security guards either don't get to, or it's far removed and they don't go to at all. What they are doing is using this to supplement that. In an indoor environment like a shopping center, they are used to patrol inside the shopping center,” Stephens said.
 
While these robots can function as human security guards, Stephens stresses that these are not one-on-one replacements. “This is augmentation. Where people are looking to replace people, that’s not our deal. But if you are looking to save money on hours, and you can strip away the human component for just a moment, put the robot where it is most efficient, you backfill and reallocate the human asset into that, then you’re augmenting it, and that's how you’re are saving money.


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