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Experts Envision the Convergence of Robotics and Physical Security

Experts from Robolliance give their thoughts on the future of security robotics, including how they can be implemented and who might be early adopters.

For the first time in many years, I recently watched a 1980s satirical action movie favorite, the original “Robocop,” enjoying it anew through my 13-year-old son’s eyes (don’t tell his mother).

Back when I saw it in the theater the sci-fi story was a lot closer to pure fantasy. While we are still not there yet, the past few years have seen robotics and related security technologies evolving at a significantly hastened pace.

So much so that this year Security Sales & Integration has introduced the industry’s first robosecurity issue. At this year’s ISC West, ground and aerial robots along with artificial intelligence (AI) were easily among the hottest topics and sought-out technologies (see SSI‘s report).

Within the overall exhibit was the Unmanned Security & Safety Expo that included nearly 30 vendors, many of which enthralled attendees with fascinating robots that roamed the lobby and hall aisles.

Among those companies was Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), whose president/CEO Steve Reinharz showed me the firm’s Security Control Observation Tower (SCOT).

Loaded with security tech and AI, the product is a standalone perimeter solution. It’s a good example of how robotics and AI figure to rapidly expand and mutate to meet needs, solve problems and fulfill applications across a broad range of uses beyond our imaginations.

This past December, as further evidence of the technology’s impending transformative thrust, the Security Industry Association (SIA) launched its Autonomous Security Robots Working Group.

SSI — whose parent company EH Media includes a robotics business unit featuring the Robotics Trends consumer market brand and Robotics Business Review publication and tradeshow — saw the writing on the wall a few years ago when the magazine became a founding sponsor and exclusive media partner of Robolliance.

To coincide with this issue, I asked that organization’s members: How do you envision robotics for security and safety growing in the near term? Who might be the early adopters? Here are some perspectives (for full takes, visit securitysales.com/robocorner):

Ben Waters, WiBotic: “We’re seeing a massive reduction in the cost and complexity of robotic systems — to the point where nearly any job that has a risk of injury or death can now be cost effectively addressed with robots and drones. As customers become more familiar with robots for one task, they’re also learning to leverage them for other tasks they may not have considered before.

Security may be the driving factor in the initial deployment, but there is so much more they can do. For example, while watching for trespassers, drones at solar farms can use multispectral cameras to identify damaged panels. Or mobile robots patrolling datacenters can identify overheating servers before a crash occurs.”

Claudine Hudson, Shuttle Computer Group: “I envision robotics in the near future being a collaborative effort of drones and unmanned ground vehicles. It would be excellent to have all the capabilities merged into one solution. My thought is that the growth of robotics and security will eventually be a morph of both technologies based on the market demands and trends. Some of the early adopters would be TSA, finance companies, manufacturing, universities, hospitals, and government agencies such as the FBI and CIA.”

Eric Morse, Genentech: “Robotic units and unmanned ground vehicles do not worry about adversities and perform the same task, time and time again, as programmed regardless of the repetition or the conditions for which they work in. This increases the proficiency of their work and standardizes it so that it is done the same way each and every time. A win for the security operation, a win for the client they are working to protect and a win for the security officer who is now performing other tasks.”

Natasha Shea, Hudson Valley (N.Y.) P-TECH: “Will our schools be forced to look differently at the future in order to be more secure? Can we provide advanced security in ways that will allow us to keep our collaborative school environment? Robotics may provide some answers. Security robots allow end users to deploy cutting-edge technology to improve operational efficiencies, to safely and securely patrol large areas, and integrate seamlessly with existing security infrastructure.”

Brian Higgins, Group 77: “As the capabilities of robotics continues to advance, those involved in security and public safety will come to recognize the increasing benefits of using such technology. In the very near future the capabilities of patrol robots will be combined with robots used by public safety bomb units and then integrated with camera systems equipped with analytics.”

About the Author

Contact:

Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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