How UGVs Can Effectively Act as Force Multipliers for Security Patrols

Security robots are well-suited for augmenting patrols thanks to their surveillance and detection capabilities. They are also a prospective RMR stream for dealers.

How UGVs Can Effectively Act as Force Multipliers for Security Patrols

Humans may be concerned about the rise of the machines taking their jobs, but when it comes to security, surveillance and life safety there’s still room for both to peacefully coexist.

Allied Universal, which claims the largest security force in North America with more than 150,000 employees, is a prime example of a company in the trenches figuring out how robots and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) fit into its business.

The facility services company offers traditional guarding, integrated security and technology solutions, as well as threat intelligence and situational awareness platforms from its monitoring and response center.

“We introduced ground-based robotics to clients in 2016. Through those early adopters many lessons have been learned,” says Jeff Benjamin, director – CyCop integration for Allied Universal. “The manufacturers have been extremely reactive to challenges to modify everything from internal navigation algorithms that allow the machines to learn environments better including obstacles, people, objects to hardware advancements in cameras, suspension and power systems.”

Allied Universal has partnered with Knightscope and Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD) for its deployments. Knightscope’s offerings include the K3 and K5 autonomous data machines (or ADMs, pictured, below left, with the new K1 stationary machine), patrol robots that work within geo-fenced areas and deliver features for providing alerts including: 360° video, thermal imaging, license plate recognition (LPR), people detection, intercom and broadcast capability, audio recording, and parking monitoring.

Meanwhile, RAD provides customers greater situational awareness through its RADBot mobile patrol unit, which has features such as 360° video, cellular/wireless integration, and integration with VMS and audio systems; and its recently launched SCOT (security control observation tower), which can be used for perimeter surveillance in a variety of settings and employs things like detection analytics, LPR, people tracking, close-range video intercom, long-range audio paging, cellular/wireless technology and more to generate alerts from its posts.

Photo Courtesy Knightscope/Business Wire

And other manufacturers continue to enter the robotic security space; notably, Sharp made an early splash with its INTELLOS automated UGV for surveillance and detection functionalities plus optional sensors that can uncover outdoor environmental hazards like toxic gases and more.

Benjamin estimates that in three years the technology will become more commonplace and “within five years, it will become a prevalent talking point for security bids and RFPs.”

The ability to cover far-reaching and difficult terrain, perform tasks and generate alerts at blazing speeds, plus other autonomous abilities combine for a powerful value proposition.

“UGVs are perfect inside any security program where a task is monotonous and/or dangerous. They have the ability to detect and record many more details and data sets including heat signatures and MAC addresses that a person will never be able to detect,” Benjamin explains, adding that most if not all UGVs have a person behind their operation in some manner.

“UGVs effectively act as force multipliers where they are deployed. They provide a unique security presence in all of the environments where they are placed. While on patrol, they’re able to verify perimeter integrity in dangerous areas on the property, provide avenues for patrons to quickly connect with the security team, and identify dangers that otherwise may go unnoticed.”

Another aspect sure to resonate with security dealers is the prospect of a new RMR stream. Much like Nightingale Security does with its drone clients that pay for “Robotics as a Service” subscriptions, RAD President/CEO Steve Reinharz points to similar opportunities with other security robots and UGVs.

“This gives customers the opportunity to rely on their integrator partners to provide service, updates and maintenance to the robotics solutions, as well as provide ongoing support in day-to-day operations,” he says. “While this might not be a fit for every dealer/integrator, this continued service-based model is a sweeping trend across the industry.”

Reinharz expects 2018 to see major advancements in technology and traction for robotics and UGVs. For those familiar with the ins and outs of robust video surveillance and VMS, maturing robotics solutions may simply be another piece to that comprehensive puzzle — a highly sophisticated one.

“This means smarter technology that takes data already being collected [like video] and transforms that data into use-able intelligence. For example, taking a photo of a license plate and matching it to law enforcement databases to determine whether an unknown vehicle is a threat to an organization,” Reinharz says.

He notes critical infrastructure sites, educational and corporate campuses, and oil and gas refineries as key verticals for deployment, in particular customers with expansive coverage areas and/or remote locations. Emergency situations like terrorist attacks and natural disasters are also ripe for putting robotics into action.

“We’ve already seen this in use in California during the wildfires that plagued the area just a few months ago,” Reinharz says. “Another big industry is marijuana-growing facilities, where security is paramount, both around the perimeter and inside the greenhouses. This area is only going to get bigger.”

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About the Author


Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines.

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