Why security robots?
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
When we started Alterra Robotics, a lot of people asked - why robots and how do they solve problems in physical security?
It’s 2020, and we believe robots should already be a lot more ubiquitous than they are. We have the technology today to have robots work side-by-side with humans, helping free their time from dull, dangerous, and dirty tasks. We may not be close to the hoverboards we were promised by Hollywood, but the world is increasingly adopting robots beyond the traditional manufacturing assembly line where they have indeed become ubiquitous since the 1970s.
Now, about security. Why did we choose to focus on serving this industry? Well, if we look at hairy business problems across verticals, we sometimes see a related set of problems that impacts supplier organizations, customer organizations, and their people. We see this in spades in the security industry.
We see $128B in annual spending worldwide across physical security services and technology. It’s a large vertical, and keeping people and assets safe and secure is a necessity for every single business.
As we discuss some of the problems in this industry, you'll see why robotics can make a real positive impact:
Security monitoring is boring and repetitive 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time? Well, the job can turn nasty and dangerous in the blink of any eye, an incident could result in escalation and possible harm to people, particularly security personnel.
This is an area well suited for robots, they are suited to conduct repetitive tasks, autonomously, and still allow humans to interact with the environment remotely. Security robots can help keep security personnel safe during many of these incidents, allowing humans to observe, interact, and even de-escalate situations remotely. Personnel can now use their skills and abilities to perform higher-level activities letting us do what we do best, solve bigger problems.
It’s not enough though to have a roaming camera on wheels which still needs a human staring at a monitor. This is where Artificial Intelligence, or specifically Machine Learning comes in. Security is the latest sector seeing increased adoption of AI for automated detection of threats such as intruders, suspicious packages, fire, amongst many other examples. The ability to automatically alert human teams when a potential threat is detected is where the benefits of human-robot hybrid teams really shine.
Staffing in security operations is a challenge, to say the least. I've had several customers say it takes them weeks to recruit, and it's increasingly tough to retain staff. Employee turnover is a massive problem, with average rates of more than 100% being reported. Compare this to a 15% turnover rate as the average across most industries. Take a look at any security company’s website. They are recruiting. Always.
So yet another time where robots are suited to help managers, schedulers, overworked employees in reducing some of this challenge. Are robots going to doom all our jobs? No, but they will certainly help make them easier and help fill the gaps that many people just don’t want to fill.
Last but not least, massive gaps remain in security coverage. Why? The ability to recruit and retain security guards is certainly one reason, but we also have to understand the challenges facing budget decision-makers when it comes to facilities management (which security often falls under). This is the department often seen as ripe for cost reduction exercises. However, assets get older, buildings need more upkeep and maintenance year after year. So facility managers are asked to do more and more, but with fewer resources.
Yes, robots can be significantly cheaper when compared directly to a human, but a direct replacement is not the point, and frankly, that thought process can be doomed to failure. The intent here is to augment overstretched, understaffed human teams with robots working in a seamless integrated approach. This is the key to unlocking cost savings whilst improving the effectiveness of operations.
Alterra Robotics was founded with a vision to see robots become ubiquitous, working side-by-side with people keeping them safe, making their working lives easier, and solving the problems facing security operations and facilities management departments.
Our robots and our business have been designed from the outset to make it simpler and easier than ever before for organizations to integrate security robots into their operations and realize benefits immediately, at a breakthrough price-point that delivers significant savings.
We focus on seamless integration, for example, our robot's camera feeds plug and play into a customer's existing monitoring systems and workflows, and leverage AI/Machine Learning for anomaly detection that truly automates monitoring and alerts personnel when necessary. Alterra Robotics partners with security contractors and facilities managers throughout the process, and provides white-glove service to simplify adoption by handling installation, training, workflow integration, and ongoing maintenance of the robots.