Security Robot

What is a security robot?

Security robots are autonomous robots with the purpose of securing a property. They perform tasks such as inspecting the property, predicting safety threats, and providing emergency alert functions.

You may have seen one of these cousins of R2D2 rolling through a corporate parking lot or at the mall. In the field since at least 2014, security robots are sometimes categorized as a subset of facilities management robots. This class of robots, however, is broader and includes military, police, law enforcement, and other non-corporate uses.   

The global security robot market is estimated to be about $14 billion USD and is predicted to grow at a five-year combined aggregate growth rate of about 14% to about $26 billion in 2028. The market is segmented by robot type into unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles, as well as end users, such as commercial, defense and military, and residential. 

Still an emerging segment, the security robot market is fairly fragmented and populated with large and well-known military and defense companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Thales alongside companies more narrowly focused on the space, such as Knightscope,  SMP Robotics, and Ava Robotics.

Benefits of security robots

Security robots work in commercial and residential settings—as well as defense and military locations—today. Like most robot applications, security robots are great at performing boring or repetitive tasks without getting tired or frustrated, such as checking license plates against visitor registration logs or giving e-tickets to cars that have overstayed their time in a parking space.

They work in all weather without complaint, instead of needing water and heat breaks in the summer and opportunities to warm up and thaw out in the winter. By going into dangerous, unstable, or unpredictable environments instead of humans, security robots are also helping to keep us and our first responders safer.

Types of jobs done by security robots

Human security guards might patrol an area after hours, making mental notes of anyone or anything that seems out of place, but a security robot can record what it sees and access far more information than is available to the security guard via his radio, like cross-check license plates with visitor logs. For example, parking lot attendant robots can issue tickets and check in guests at a corporate campus while also collecting information on environmental threats.

Security robots also perform the valuable task of gathering information and intelligence from dangerous or uncertain areas, both keeping humans safer and providing them with greater information about the environment they might eventually enter. Police and military forces use robots to examine and defuse suspicious objects using remote-controlled robots, allowing technicians to observe the object closely while maintaining a safe distance. If an object is identified as something that could potentially explode—rather than a gym bag someone accidentally left at the bus stop—security robots can contain, defuse, and/or destroy the object.

Technologies that enable security robots

  • Sensors. Sensors provide even more information than just eyes and ears on the ground. In addition to audio and visual information, sensors can detect chemicals, biohazards, explosives, weather, and a host of other variables that enable humans to prepare better to enter the area.
  • Improvements in nimbleness and stability. Improvements in autonomous navigation and robot stability and dexterity—such as quadruped robots like those from Boston Dynamics—have enabled companies to offer robots capable of handling challenging terrain.
  • Teleoperation. The ability to drive a robot from a remote location provides multiple benefits to users. In addition to allowing humans to stay at a safe distance, teleoperation allows robot operators to track multiple robots and take over if any robot runs into an issue or detects a security problem. This lowers the number of humans needed to secure a location.
  • Data platforms. Security robots are both using and generating large amounts of data, which ultimately enables these robots to deliver much of their value. Security robots are now connected to data platforms enriched with AI and machine learning, enabling them to do more activities autonomously than ever before. 

The future of teleoperation

teleoperation of bot

The world of teleoperation is shrinking when it comes to the telemanipulator. What was once massive, complex systems that required an advanced engineering degree to operate can now be found in your smartphone. The simplification of the telemanipulator device is making it possible for teleoperation to reach a wider audience. For example, with just a few taps of their phone screen, participants around the world were able to teleoperate Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog, Spot, on the streets of San Francisco.

Another discipline that is impacting the future of teleoperation is the evolution of virtual reality (VR). It opens up a world where human operators can remotely access and control machinery using a virtual reality system like an HTC Vive headset and hand controls. This allows an operator to teleoperate robots from their own home rather than in a factory setting.