Each of us can think of something we do on the job (or off) that we’d much prefer to hand off to someone (or something) else. That’s the sweet spot for robotics. The best environments and duties for any robot can be found in what we as humans consider redundant, objectionable and unsafe.
One vocation where a technological “buddy” might absorb some of the workload is guarding. Much of what a security guard is called upon to do is sacrificial and in service to another’s well-being. They stand as a sentry and patrol as an investigator or advance toward the front line to protect people, infrastructure and assets as their professional responsibility. Especially in the outdoors, security guards are at their most vulnerable to factors, such as weather or wrongdoers.
Outdoor security robots, whether designed for land, sea or air surveillance, are at the ready to allay manpower of what is commonly referred to as the “3 Ds”—the dirty, dull and dangerous. These autonomous (or semi-autonomous) devices are steadfastly programmed for repetitive routine, providing accurate and consistent recording of threats under an array of environmental conditions, so humans can be redeployed to tasks requiring reasoned intelligence and interpersonal engagement. Their real-time, informational-gathering capabilities can enhance situational awareness and be used to proactively assess risk as opposed to the more traditional reactive nature of guarding.
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Given robots for security are relatively new to the industry, organizations looking to incorporate robots might be mindful of raising employee comfort and consciousness of this technology. This is especially important when considering ground-based robotics, known as unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) because this is where man and machine will readily coexist in the workplace.
Start initial outdoor robotic applications in low pedestrian, non-public areas of your operational environment. Over time, proving that these machines are safe and reliable will be ideal for internal staff advocacy and user adoption. Change can be controlled and coordinated so employees, across operational disciplines beyond the security department, buy into the value proposition of a modernized workplace, where man and machine safeguard together. Sensitivity training, facility signage and success story communication to promote man-with-machine organizational protection can go a long way to manage the change and demonstrate leadership’s commitment to their people.
Fenced, perimeters of construction sites, fulfillment centers, shipping yards, airports and power plants are ideal for UGVs. Wide expanses can be surveilled night and day by a multifunctional, mechanical sentry regardless of light or weather conditions, given the payload of cameras and sensors that can be on board robots tasked with security and safety operations. The patrol missions assigned to an UGV can include the routine tasks of examining locks, reading gauges, measuring radiation and monitoring points of entry.
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The bottom line: Security in today’s world is complex and ever-changing. Manpower needs to shift attention to terrorism, workplace violence and cybercrime, leaving the routine patrols and missions to their high-tech partner. Tomorrow’s safe workplace will be comprised of these hardware and software advances augmenting the intelligence and insights of human security guards.
Checklist: Best Use-Case Environments for Outdoor Security Robots
The following list is valuable for matching operational environment attributes with today’s commercially available outdoor security robots:
- Exterior fenced and guarded areas requiring patrol and controlled access
- Cleared and groomed patrol path
- Low pedestrian and vehicle traffic
- Physical assets that need to be watched
- Require detection of intruders
- Require regular monitoring by guard
- Require safety monitoring (chemicals/hazmat stored on premises)
- Robolliance: The Robolliance is a vendor-neutral alliance of robotics manufacturers developing unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for security.
- ISC West Unmanned Security Pavilion: Sponsored by the Security Industry Association, this pavilion within the ISC West tradeshow is packed with drones and robots specifically developed for security, safety and surveillance purposes.