Sensors and cameras used by autonomous security robot

How on-demand autonomous robots can help with productivity and surveillance

A sense of duty is a trait not all humans may believe in, but what if you could wire that duty into robots to serve the greater good of the human race by contributing towards a safer home and the easing of staffing issues? With autonomous robots increasingly deployed to cure the Covid-19 pandemic, the once niche robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) sector has found a calling to our cries for help.

Robots for security and surveillance

With employees calling for an open discussion on robots taking away job placements in the market, robots are not designed as human replacements. Far more superior at data management and collection, they present a gold mine of mapped information as autonomous surveillance machines but can’t really be called security guards. These autonomous robots can recognize and learn from their surroundings and make decisions independently.

The O-R3, OTSAW’s security robot, has been spotted globally patrolling open spaces in Dubai and even parks in Singapore. It can sense the presence of people and objects, with facial recognition, license plate recognition, alarms and buttons for an emergency. Completely customizable for low-level surveillance, the list of sensors for surveillance is far more advanced and capable than one single human tracking by memory, sight and a clipboard.

OTSAW O-R3 security robot patrols parks and open spaces
OTSAW’s O-R3 patrols parks and open spaces

Although these autonomous robots won’t be chasing down trespassers or suspicious characters, they make use of advanced machine-learning algorithms and 3D SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) technology, similar to what is used in OTSAW’s O-R3. Robots will spell out the future of collaborative fleets of aerial and ground surveillance robots.

In the next ten years, a competitive advantage for employers of robots is huge. There will be further improvements in sensors, dexterity, artificial intelligence, and trainability as robots become faster and more sophisticated. The potential is huge and the productivity is high.

Robots solve the labour shortage

The vision for many robotics companies is to give back solutions which can fulfil the demand for labour shortage. With an inconsistent and unreliable pillar of standards of humans, the deployment of robots is instantaneous with 24-hour shifts of infrared cameras as opposed to the human eye which will eventually blend in with the background rendering specific objects and targets invisible. There are only a number of hours before human eyesight fatigues and shift changes are necessary. Furthermore, safety is always an issue when human life is involved.

Security and surveillance is one area where robots can excel

The turnover rate for security staff in 2016 was reported to be at a 2.8 per cent resignation rate, compared to the 1.8 per cent total labour market, meaning that there was a market for robots to enter.

Roaming a vicinity under surveillance, robots are deemed more intimidating and can easily respond by alerting emergency services instantaneously.

With the pandemic blanketing the globe, the customization of robots meant companies like OTSAW were able to immediately adapt their O-R3 robots to current market demand by programming them to become safe distancing ambassadors. Their job scope entailed broadcasting in four languages to the public while on patrol to make sure they split up groups and individuals.

Current human ambassadors work long hours and risk their lives with people’s emotions at an all-time high. In Singapore, there was a case where a safe distancing ambassador was stabbed by a man who turned aggressive.

Ageing societies

With birth rates at an all-time low worldwide, it can only be expected that we will have to deal with an ageing population thereby leading to a shortage of labour in various sectors including security. Needless to say, productivity levels are at an all-time low and to contend with this, workers will be expected to work longer hours to balance out their finances.

In a report by BBC, women in 1950 were giving birth at an average rate of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. That means 23 countries including Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea can expect to see their population more than halved.

At a tipping point with an ageing society, what other alternatives will we have to cover the shortages?

Future of homeland security

There is a natural progression towards robots leading the way towards the future by enabling humans to steer clear of hazardous, monotonous jobs.

No doubt there is the topic of data security and the laws behind them that are constantly changing, but while the systems are somewhat at a novice stage, robots using cloud and advanced analytics can determine a person’s daily routine which includes how often he or she visits different or the same areas along with the duration. The wireless features will bank on mobile data in the vicinity keeping out unwanted individuals, recognizing approved devices, and scanning for unfamiliar ones.

Job security will always be at the back of everyone’s mind. However, the fear is slowly dissolving as this global pandemic has pushed forth a worldwide experiment as we collect more data on how it has affected the economy and the environment.

While automation is not used to help increase the output volume of workers, it can absorb the current loss of workers from the COVID-19 situation. Moving forward, it’s important for companies using automation to continue to rethink and reinvest to make up for any potential future job losses. We will only know in the next 5 years what the lay of the land will be from robotics. Until then, anticipation and foresight in the fast-growing space of robotics can help to increase productivity, reduce risk, decrease cost, and improve data collection.

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