A lot of security employee tasks are mundane and simple, like checking an ID badge. It’s this kind of work that is tailor-made for a robotics solution, and Cobalt Robotics has just unveiled a machine that could take over many responsibilities of a typical security professional.
Speaking with IEEE Spectrum, Cobalt’s CEO Travis Deyle noted that cutting-edge sensors, such as night vision cameras and lidar, coupled with recent developments in computer vision and artificial intelligence allow robots to have similar or better capabilities than human security guards, and can operate around the clock without becoming bored, tired, or distracted.
Our robot has eyes on the back of its head, can see in pitch black, and never needs to sleep. And when it finds something, it can ‘Skype’ in a highly-trained pilot to make hard decisions or talk to anyone in the space.
Travis Deyle, CEO, Cobalt
For now, Cobalt’s robot is designed to work alongside humans. It can navigate pre-mapped indoor areas, recognize faces, read ID badges, identify security threats and notify proper authorities. In addition to being a countermeasure against intruders, the robot can also detect smoke and unsafe carbon dioxide levels.
The robot looks like an ultra-modern chess piece, and it was intentionally designed to not look like a human. Instead, the robot was designed to blend in with the furniture and décor of a modern office environment.
According to Deyle, the mobility of Cobalt’s security robot affords it numerous advantages over a human security guard or a camera system. First of all, robots can move to get an infinite amount of vantage points, something a fixed camera cannot do. As security footage from a stationary camera often reveals, there can almost always be a better angle to capture a perpetrator’s features so that they can be identified.
Second, standard security policies ask guards to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Mobility allows for Cobalt's robot to approach a would-be intruder with fear of injury, which can lead to faster responses and better outcomes.
Third, a mobile robot that can be seen roaming the property is an active deterrent to unwanted behaviors.
Truth be told, the technology does threaten to disrupt the security industry and take away good paying jobs. However, there are several upsides to robots like the one recently unveiled by Cobalt.
These robots can be a more cost-effective option for smaller companies that cannot afford a human security presence. Also, the robots can act as force multipliers for companies that can only afford a handful of security guards. Furthermore, the robots will require a human to monitor them and humans to repair them.
Finally, the job of a security guard is dull work. People who work these jobs aren’t taking full advantage of their skills and replacing some of these jobs could push people toward realizing their greater potential.
Deyle said he envisions security personnel working with robots to offer a more dependable and cost-effective service. He estimated that this type of security solution would cost between one-fifth and one-third of what an all-human force would cost.
Robots help with the dullest, hardest parts of security (like night shift patrols) without falling asleep, and they will alert the rest of your security staff only if there’s something worthy of note. Each robot pilot can oversee tens of robots, which allows guards to cover more ground and have visibility exactly when and where they need it. Plus, all of the sensors and components of the robot are becoming remarkably cheaper thanks to other industries.
Travis Deyle, CEO, Cobalt
Cobalt said it will be launching pilot project very soon to observe the robots in a real-life environment.