Round table contributions
The year ahead holds endless promise for the physical security industry, and much of that future will be determined by which technologies the industry embraces. The menu of possibilities is long – from artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things to the cloud and much more – and each technology trend has the potential to transform the market in its own way. We tapped into the collective expertise of our Expert Panel Roundtable to answer this question: What technology trend will have the biggest impact on the security market in 2019?
The new year 2019 is brimming with possibilities for the physical security industry, but will those possibilities prove to be good news or bad news for our market? Inevitably, it will be a combination of good and bad, but how much good and how bad? We wanted to check the temperature of the industry as it relates to expectations for the new year, so we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How optimistic is your outlook for the physical security industry in 2019? Why?
In many regards, 2018 was a turbulent year for the physical security marketplace, driven by evolving technologies and changing customer needs, among other factors. Year-end is a great time to reflect, so we asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What caused the most disruption in the physical security marketplace in 2018?
Cobalt Robotics is a physical security service provider that builds indoor autonomous robots to make security and facility operations more effective. The company announces that it has raised $35 million in Series B financing. The financing was led by global technology investment firm, Coatue, and is intended for geographic expansion of services throughout the domestic United States. “Security is fundamentally about trust and reputation, and it needs to be reinforced across all aspects of the company: founders, employees, technology, and financial backers. Our financial backers—such as Bloomberg Beta, Sequoia Capital, and now Coatue—have been instrumental to our success so far, and they will be instrumental in our next phase of growth too,” said Dr. Travis Deyle, Cobalt CEO. Enhance security programs The physical security market is predicted to reach nearly $119.4 billion in 2023 “Our goal is to combine the best parts of machines (unwavering attention, perfect recall, and super-human sensing) with the best aspects of people (warmth, responsiveness, and adaptability) to create service robots that dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone and fundamentally redefine the modern workplace.” The physical security market is predicted to reach nearly $119.4 billion in 2023. Security robots are an innovative new tool within the industry that enhance security programs by bridging the gap between traditional technologies and services such as cameras, access control, and manned guards. Cobalt’s Robots-as-a-Service model combines autonomous patrolling robots with human specialists, enabling organisations to provide a 24-hour security solution that complements existing security assets like manned security guards and access control systems (ACS). The result is a highly effective security program with significant cost-savings and robots that remain up-to-date with the latest and greatest software. New door integration Since its $13 million Series A funding announcement in March 2018, Cobalt has deployed security and facilities management services to clients in various sectors (technology, defence, finance, and manufacturing) across a variety of organisational sizes (small startups to marquee Fortune 50 companies). This year, Cobalt introduced its new door integration capability that enables robots to seamlessly pass through areas closed off by a door using wireless technology to communicate with access control readers—a first for the industry. In addition to its client base, Cobalt has expanded its engineering and operations teams and enhanced its security and facilities teams, bringing its unparalleled customer service and performance to new markets. Today’s organisations face several physical security challenges—cost-effectively protecting people, assets and intellectual property while ensuring the seamless flow of operations. Trained remote personnel We believe Cobalt’s robotic security guards are revolutionising the security services space" Cobalt combines its autonomous mobile robots with highly trained remote personnel to provide a new level of situational awareness and real-time response. Cobalt’s robots patrol the workplace, leveraging AI to detect anomalies—open doors, environmental risks or malicious intruders—and then Cobalt’s security specialists can respond in real-time to address any event—whether it’s related to security, facilities or customer service. This unique human-in-the-loop model has enabled Cobalt to position itself as a key player in the physical security arena. “We believe Cobalt’s robotic security guards are revolutionising the security services space and providing an unmatched experience for customers,” said Kris Fredrickson, Partner at Coatue. “In addition, we have been thoroughly impressed with the team’s philosophy that a great physical security service should positively impact not only the company’s operations but its culture as a whole.”
Deploying security robots at a company is about more than providing and programming the hardware. There is also an element of “change management” involved in smoothing the way for robots to play a security role working side-by-side with human counterparts. Rising popularity of security robots As security robots increase in popularity, more companies are adapting to such cultural challenges "As security robots increase in popularity, more companies are adapting to such cultural challenges. Many Fortune 100, technology, finance and defense companies have begun using security robots, and some are asking to expand their implementation", says Travis Deyle, CEO and co-founder of Cobalt Robotics. "It is a complex solution that involves merging technology with people." “More people are looking at how they can deploy and test this technology, dipping their toes in the water,” says Deyle. “Financially the risk is low, but culturally it is pretty acute. It is a very visible piece of technology moving through your most sensitive spaces and interacting with employees.” Change management “Doing change management and addressing the cultural implications inside the company are the biggest challenges we face,” Deyle adds. “We have to make sure that people know what the robot is there for, what it does and how it helps them. There is a social contract between companies and employees about what information is being collected and how is it being used.” The technical onboarding of a robot is the easy part, says Deyle. “The robot goes in, maps out the space; it takes about an hour. The bigger part is the cultural onboarding.” The process involves working closely with the company’s communications team to manage how the use of robots is messaged throughout the company. Deyle suggests doing a Q&A event where employees can touch and feel the robot and get comfortable. “We tailor the interaction to the individual company,” he says. Importance of communication Communication with employees, tenants, clients, law enforcement, etc. is very important Communication with employees, tenants, clients, law enforcement, etc. is very important and, if done well, all goes smoothly, agrees William Santana Li, Knightscope Chairman and CEO. “Showing up with a 400-pound, 5-foot-tall autonomous robot, deploying it and not telling anyone what is happening is ill advised!” Knightscope also advises potential end users to identify clearly the areas of improvement needed in a security program to guide the deployment of robots. Beware of “Science Fiction Disease,” whose symptoms include unrealistic expectations or fears emanating from Hollywood depictions of robots over the years. Expectations should be spelled out: Keep ongoing and clear communications between the provider and the client, continuing to make improvements together. Future of robotics and AI Users should also think clearly through their source of funding, including the second and future years of an implementation. Communication is key, involving stakeholders from the CSO to facilities, purchasing to human resources, finance to the CEO. The future of robotics in corporate America is more than the development of the technology. Given advances in artificial intelligence (AI), sensors and software, the technology is the easy part. Thinking more broadly about how robotics can excel in the corporate environment – and make companies safer – is the next big obstacle on the path to effectively using the powerful technology.
Cobalt Robotics, a manufacturer of intelligent security robots used to autonomously patrol indoor facilities, will introduce a new door integration that enables its security robots to open and then pass through a secured door without human intervention, a first for the industry. Cobalt Robotics’ new door integration feature enables its robots to seamlessly pass through areas closed off by a door. Using a secured, wireless credential, the robot transmits a signal using either Bluetooth or RFID technology to use the door’s access control reader, telling it to open. Security robot industry The new feature will be unveiled at ISC West 2019, one of the largest security industry trade shows for security professionals. The event will be held April 9-12 in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center. “This enhanced capability is a game changer in the security robot industry, as it enables robots to enter partitioned areas in a corporate office or manufacturing facility that would otherwise be difficult for the robot to access independently,” said Dr. Travis Deyle, CEO of Cobalt Robotics. Cobalt’s robots have been recognised as one of the most innovative products in the security industry Cobalt’s robots have been recognised as one of the most innovative products in the security industry. In 2017, it received the Judges Choice Award as part of the ASIS Accolades Award program, as well as the New Product Showcase at ISC West. Door integration capability In addition to its door integration capability, Cobalt’s robots also feature leak and spill detection sensing technology to identify a leak or spill in a predefined area and then send the proper notification to a Cobalt Specialist. Cobalt robots are equipped with more than 60 powerful sensors, including day-night cameras, thermal sensors, motion sensors and badge readers, which helps it to detect anomalies and other risks that might not be detected by the human eye. Cobalt Robotics will showcase its robots at ISC West 2019 in booth #7134.
The best route to greater adoption of robotics in the field of physical security is intellectual honesty, says Travis Deyle, CEO and co-founder of Cobalt Robotics. “Robots are not a panacea, so we must be clear and honest about capabilities and use cases,” he says. “If you are dishonest, people will lose faith. We must have clear expectations about what’s feasible today and possible tomorrow.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies. “The tone has changed at recent security events,” says Deyle. “Previously, robots were thought of as a science experiment. But now, there are big-name users wanting to discuss proof of concept. It has evolved from being a novelty to now it’s time to give it a serious look. They want us to help them sell the concept up the chain of command. It’s helpful to have conversations with other parts of the company because it has an impact on the culture of the company.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies Cobalt’s robots are purpose-built for a specific use case: providing after-hours support and security for corporate locations. Indoor environments, confined and controlled, present fewer navigation challenges for robots, which can quickly become familiar with the surroundings and navigate easily through an office space. Indoor robots can provide benefits beyond security, too, such as facility management, promoting employee health and safety, and emergency response. Cobalt's human-centred design Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people. They are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure. The human-centered design promotes that interaction, and a real person (located remotely) can enter into any interaction instantly as needed. “We combine machines with people,” says Deyle. “We allow the machine to do what it does best, such as dull and boring activities, and add the flexibility and cultural relevancy of having a person there.” Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people, they are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure When a robot is deployed, it performs a brief mapping phase (about an hour), in which it moves around and builds up a “map” of its space and develops its patrol route. Over time, it lingers more in areas where it encounters more incidents. There are 60 sensors on the robot, including day/night cameras, high-resolution thermal cameras, a card reader that integrates with the corporate access control system, a microphone, and environmental sensors for temperature and humidity. The robot builds models of what’s normal in its environment in terms of people, sound, motion, open doors and windows, and even leaks and spills. And then it detects anomalies and sends relevant notifications to Cobalt specialists, who respond and manage any events in real time. The machine provides unwavering attention, perfect recall, and accountability. Cobalt robots have been designed to help bridge the problems faced with utilising guards and cameras Accommodating various anomalies The Cobalt robot is designed to blend into a high-end office environment, with flexible fabric and a corporate design aesthetic. It is stable beyond 45-degrees, so it’s hard to topple over. The 5-foot-2-inch robot can see over desks and cubicles. It is designed to bridge the gap between guards, who are expensive and underutilised during uneventful night shifts, and cameras, which are unable to respond to nuanced situations. Cobalt Robotics already has customers in defense, finance and manufacturing, and a handful of Fortune 500 companies are looking at the service Autonomous navigation uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to avoid static and dynamic obstacles. Over time, the robot accommodates various anomalies such as loud machinery noise, and “semantic mapping” adds intelligence to its map. When the robot figures out that a picture on the wall is not a real person, for example, it stores that information for future reference. The technologies enabling robotics in the indoor environment are mature – there have been variations of security robots in operation for decades. What has changed is the costs of the technologies, which are now inexpensive enough to make a robot affordable to businesses. Cobalt Robotics offers an all-inclusive service providing hardware, software, service and maintenance as well as the remote human interface. All together, the service is a third to half the cost of a man-guard, and it bills monthly, says Deyle. Cobalt Robotics offers an all-inclusive service providing hardware, software, service and maintenance as well as the remote human interface Cobalt Robotics already has customers in defense, finance and manufacturing, and a handful of Fortune 500 companies are looking at the service. They are currently operational in the San Francisco Bay area and Chicago and will be in six other geographies in the next three months (in response to customer needs). Uses include offices, museums, warehouses, technology centres, and innovation centres. A former Google employee, Deyle’s experience in robotics goes back to his Ph.D. studies at Georgia Tech, where he worked on developing a robot to deliver healthcare to homebound patients. Deyle and Cobalt Robotics co-founder Erik Schluntz departed Google in 2016 to form Cobalt Robotics. In just 12 months, Cobalt went from the initial idea to paid robot deployments.
Cobalt Robotics, a manufacturer of intelligent security robots used to autonomously patrol indoor facilities, will unveil its new leak and spill detection sensing capabilities as part of the Global Security Exchange, one of the largest tradeshows and conferences to showcase the latest security technologies. At last year’s event, previously called the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits, Cobalt Robotics was the recipient of the 2017 Judges Choice Award, the highest honor available as part of the ASIS Accolades Award program. The Judges Choice Award recognises the most innovative product of the year. Leak and spill detection sensing technology With its new leak and spill detection sensing technology, Cobalt robots can be programmed to detect a leak or spill within a predefined area With its new leak and spill detection sensing technology, Cobalt robots can be programmed to detect a leak or spill within a predefined area. Once detected, the security robot can then send the appropriate notification to a robot Specialist. Cobalt robots are equipped with powerful sensors, including day-night cameras, thermal sensors, motion sensors and badge readers, which helps it to detect anomalies and other risks that might not be detected by the human eye. “Security robots provide corporate security directors with a powerful tool that amplifies their resources and allows real-time alerts to the right security personnel about an event, such as an open door, a spill, or an unauthorised individual in the building after hours,” said Dr. Travis Deyle, CEO and co-founder of Cobalt Robotics. “Security professionals are finding that security robots are a valuable addition to their security toolbox, enabling them to integrate technologies and leverage the benefits of machine learning technology.” Security robots Cobalt Robotics was founded in 2016. Since then robots designed and developed by the technology start-up have been deployed by several well-known companies, including Yelp, Credit Karma and Slack. The company has also raised $16.5 million in venture capital funding through partners such as Sequoia Capital, Bloomberg Beta, Storm Ventures and Founders Fund. GSX will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Sept. 24-27th in Las Vegas. More than 20,000 security professionals, which includes corporate security directors from Fortune 500 companies, universities, healthcare facilities, and financial institutions from around the globe, are expected to attend the event. Cobalt Robotics will be exhibiting at GSX at booth 353 and be featured in the D3 Xperience – Drones, Droids, Defense located at Booth 5602.