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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Security Robotics

Basic physical security is needed. 

Robots are your new office security guard

Jennifer A. Kingson

Cobalt Robotic

They stand five feet tall and glide at three miles per hour, patrolling office buildings for everything from broken fire alarms to suspicious activity: Security robots are starting to replace human guards in workplaces and beyond.

Why it matters: Despite some hiccups, robots armed with sensors and artificial intelligence are making inroads in diverse fields — from window washing and pizza making to bartending and caring for the elderly.

Driving the news: Lower costs mean it's now substantially cheaper for companies to use robots than traditional guards for 24/7 security.

Robots can check in visitors and issue badges, respond to alarms, report incidents, and see things security cameras can't.

Security robots don't get bored, tired, or distracted by their phones — and it's safer for them to confront intruders and other hazards.

Two-way communications systems allow employees to report problems or request human help by talking to the robot.

By the numbers: Using a robot guard vs. a human can save a company $79,000 per year, according to a recent report by Forrester Research.

What they're saying: "All this money has really poured into service robotics because of the money that has gone into autonomous vehicles," says Mike LeBlanc, president and COO of Cobalt Robotics, which is leading the charge to populate offices with non-human security guards.

Two views of a Cobalt Robotics robot in the office, showing how it roams hallways and has an interactive tablet that allows people to communicate with a call center.

At left, a Cobalt Robotics unit prowls hallways to scout for problems and allows people to report concerns. At right, an employee uses the robot's tablet to communicate with a specialist at a remote call center. Photos courtesy of Cobalt Robotics.

How it works: Cobalt's robots are built to the specifications of a particular building's ramps and elevators.

They roam hallways looking for possible problems — like unusual motion at night or a door that's been propped open — and report back to a human-staffed call center.

"They have fabric, so they're designed to look like a piece of high-end office furniture," LeBlanc tells Axios. "And they have a tablet on the front that allows people to interact with our 24/7 specialists at any given time."

"People can tap on the screen of the robot, a person will come up on the screen, and they'll be able to ask them what's going on," LeBlanc said. "They can say, 'There's a leak or spill over here,' or 'There's someone in the office who's making me uncomfortable.'"

Case study: Food delivery startup DoorDash is using Cobalt robots across its corporate sites, for everything from COVID-19 temperature checks to routine security patrols, alarm responses, and security escort services.  ...'

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