There’s no better indication that robots are the next big thing in security than the formation of the industry organisation known as Robolliance. It’s billed as “a forum for technology partners and industry experts in robotics, surveillance and security to advance the understanding and awareness of the Autonomous Robotics marketplace.”

Founded by Sharp Electronics Corp, its members include some of the biggest names in security and technology including Bell and Howell, Rajant Corporation, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI), and others.

Sharp Vice President and Deputy General Manager Cliff Quiroga is helping to lead the charge on robotics for security. Recently, he spoke with SourceSecurity.com about the new organisation and what all the talk about robots means for the security industry.

SourceSecurity.com: What prompted the creation of Robolliance? How will it help drive innovation in this technology? 

Quiroga: There are two facts about the introduction of high-tech to our personal and professional lives. One, new technology is disruptive. Two, most people resist change. I remember Forbes publishing an article a few years back about the top five reasons people resist change. The writer’s recommendation was to take the time to understand the change, who it will impact, how it will impact and why people might resist it. Robolliance does just this. Robotics’ introduction into the security industry will be much more disruptive than a smart phone. The fact that people resist change is what Robolliance is all about. It is a resource where people can go to understand and become aware.

SourceSecurity.com: What were the main takeaways from PSA TEC [PSA Security Network’s yearly conference] where Robolliance was announced? 

Quiroga: As Sharp Electronics Corporation was bringing together sponsors to work together on Robolliance, PSA was making a parallel effort to bring robotics into the purview of their membership of security integrators. What better place to introduce both our efforts? PSA has a history of introducing the “next big thing” to their integrators before they eventually hardwire the topic to their training curriculum. Over prior years, they had great success with the introduction of cybersecurity, which is now a focal point of the education security integrators receive to grow their business. Robotics is what PSA deems that “next big thing”. 

SourceSecurity.com: How will the organisation contribute to innovation in robotics?

Quiroga: Robolliance serves as an incubator for individuals and organisations to do their best work. The composition of Robolliance extends beyond the sponsors to the followers, who will join the forum to share stories, collaborate ideas and cross-educate one another. A company, like Sharp Electronics Corporation, has a history of engineering and manufacturing success. Robolliance brings a company, like ours, into an ecosystem that includes other robotics, surveillance and security experts, who can stay within their wheelhouse and leverage their core competencies in contribution with other thought-leaders, who believe in the future of robotic technology. Together, we have the potential to shorten innovation cycles and increase speed to market.

The most promising market for the autonomous ground-based vehicles is any large private or government outdoor facility
The role of robotics in security today is still in its infancy, but indications are the market is ready and waiting for the technology

SourceSecurity.com: What role is robotics playing now in security?

Quiroga: The role of robotics in security today is still in its infancy. Aerial drones are just starting to appear with some corporate security organisations, but progress has only been inching along, while security and safety directors wait to see how the FAA [U.S. Federal Aviation Administration] will finalise regulations. Concerning ground-based robotics, there is no unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) on the market today dedicated to outdoor autonomous patrol and surveillance. All indications are the market is ready and waiting for the technology.

SourceSecurity.com: Is the primary trend using robots as security guards? Where do they work best? Patrolling perimeters and warehouses?

Quiroga: We believe the trend is in “Collaborative Robotics” – products that increase the overall productivity of workers, such as security guards. Technology innovation at its best tends to make workers more productive. Robotic products as applied to security tend to show the most promise for those dull, dirty and dangerous – the 3Ds – applications. Examples of this include utilities, such as electrical and water treatment, manufacturing and petro-chemical processing facilities. Typical roles for a security robot on these sites are perimeter patrols and asset verification.

SourceSecurity.com: What are the challenges? 

Quiroga: There is still a lot of emerging technology that will allow ground-based robots to expand and perform more functions than we see today. At the moment, speed is limited, but as sensor technology costs come down, we will see travel speeds of UGVs increase.

SourceSecurity.com: Does it create liability? 

Quiroga: For the most part, we don’t see an increase in liability, especially when we compare the risks and cost related to a person performing dangerous security activities versus having a robot perform those same tasks.

SourceSecurity.com: What are the challenges of using robots in this capacity?

Quiroga: We believe “change” in general is the biggest challenge. We are all creatures of habit, and using a new tool will require some retraining and adjustments, but we believe as with any new technology this will come with time and exposure.

SourceSecurity.com: What are the technical breakthroughs companies are focusing on and need to solve in this area?

Quiroga: The basic uses have been defined, and the fundamental capabilities are possible. The improvements will come, just as they have for personal computers. Improvements in performance of key robot components, such as sensors (such as Lidar), will happen and in turn the cost reductions will come as those components are used in more and more products.

SourceSecurity.com: What is the most promising market for companies in the robot security area?

Quiroga: The most promising market for the autonomous ground-based vehicles is any large private or government outdoor facility with constant “guard-tours” and safety/security compliance reporting requirements.

Read Part 5 of our Robots In Security Series here

Save

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Randy Southerland Special Assignment Contributor, SecurityInformed.com

In case you missed it

Managing security during unprecedented times of home working
Managing security during unprecedented times of home working

Companies are following government guidance and getting as many people as possible working from home. Some companies will have resisted home working in the past, but I’m certain that the sceptics will find that people can be productive with the right tools no matter where they are. A temporary solution will become permanent. But getting it right means managing risk. Access is king In a typical office with an on-premise data centre, the IT department has complete control over network access, internal networks, data, and applications. The remote worker, on the other hand, is mobile. He or she can work from anywhere using a VPN. Until just recently this will have been from somewhere like a local coffee shop, possibly using a wireless network to access the company network and essential applications. CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, and collaborative communication toolsBut as we know, CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, applications and collaborative communication tools that they do on a regular basis from the office or on the train. Indeed, the new generation of video conferencing technologies come very close to providing an “almost there” feeling. Hackers lie in wait Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical servers. Less than a month ago, we emerged from a period of chaos. For months hackers had been exploiting a vulnerability in VPN products from Pulse Secure, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Citrix. Patches were provided by vendors, and either companies applied the patch or withdrew remote access. As a result, the problem of attacks died back.  But as companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on. That’s because remote desktop protocol (RDP) has been for the most part of 2019, and continues to be, the most important attack vector for ransomware. Managing a ransomware attack on top of everything else would certainly give you sleepless nights. As companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical serversExposing new services makes them also susceptible to denial of service attacks. Such attacks create large volumes of fake traffic to saturate the available capacity of the internet connection. They can also be used to attack the intricacies of the VPN protocol. A flow as little as 1Mbps can perturbate the VPN service and knock it offline. CIOs, therefore, need to acknowledge that introducing or extending home working broadens the attack surface. So now more than ever it’s vital to adapt risk models. You can’t roll out new services with an emphasis on access and usability and not consider security. You simply won’t survive otherwise. Social engineering Aside from securing VPNs, what else should CIO and CTOs be doing to ensure security? The first thing to do is to look at employee behaviour, starting with passwords. It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposed. Best practice would be to get all employees to reset their passwords as they connect remotely and force them to choose a new password that complies with strong password complexity guidelines.  As we know, people have a habit of reusing their passwords for one or more online services – services that might have fallen victim to a breach. Hackers will happily It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposedleverage these breaches because it is such easy and rich pickings. Secondly, the inherent fear of the virus makes for perfect conditions for hackers. Sadly, a lot of phishing campaigns are already luring people in with the promise of important or breaking information on COVID-19. In the UK alone, coronavirus scams cost victims over £800,000 in February 2020. A staggering number that can only go up. That’s why CIOs need to remind everyone in the company of the risks of clickbait and comment spamming - the most popular and obvious bot techniques for infiltrating a network. Notorious hacking attempts And as any security specialist will tell you, some people have no ethics and will exploit the horrendous repercussions of CV-19. In January we saw just how unscrupulous hackers are when they started leveraging public fear of the virus to spread the notorious Emotet malware. Emotet, first detected in 2014, is a banking trojan that primarily spreads through ‘malspam’ and attempts to sneak into computers to steal sensitive and private information. In addition, in early February the Maze ransomware crippled more than 230 workstations of the New Jersey Medical Diagnostics Lab and when they refused to pay, the vicious attackers leaked 9.5GB or research data in an attempt to force negotiations. And in March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHO and healthcare organisations in general since the pandemic broke. We’ll see lots more opportunist attacks like this in the coming months.   More speed less haste In March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHOFinally, we also have bots to contend with. We’ve yet to see reports of fake news content generated by machines, but we know there’s a high probability it will happen. Spambots are already creating pharmaceutical spam campaigns thriving on the buying behaviour of people in times of fear from infection. Using comment spamming – where comments are tactically placed in the comments following an update or news story - the bots take advantage of the popularity of the Google search term ‘Coronavirus’ to increase the visibility and ranking of sites and products in search results. There is clearly much for CIOs to think about, but it is possible to secure a network by applying some well thought through tactics. I believe it comes down to having a ‘more speed, less haste’ approach to rolling out, scaling up and integrating technologies for home working, but above all, it should be mixed with an employee education programme. As in reality, great technology and a coherent security strategy will never work if it is undermined by the poor practices of employees.

How does audio enhance security system performance?
How does audio enhance security system performance?

Video is widely embraced as an essential element of physical security systems. However, surveillance footage is often recorded without sound, even though many cameras are capable of capturing audio as well as video. Beyond the capabilities of cameras, there is a range of other audio products on the market that can improve system performance and/or expand capabilities (e.g., gunshot detection.) We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does audio enhance the performance of security and/or video systems? 

How have standards changed the security market?
How have standards changed the security market?

A standard is a document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and/or practices. Standards surround every aspect of our business. For example, the physical security marketplace is impacted by industry standards, national and international standards, quality standards, building codes and even environmental standards, to name just a few. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How have standards changed the security market as we know it?