Security Turning to Robots

12239449485?profile=RESIZE_400xCompanies are gripped by labor shortages in the security services market segment, and some are turning to robots.  Ed Bacco, a technology executive who joined ADT’s commercial arm just over four years ago, sees androids as a way of getting around the intense battle for talent and high turnover rates that have always been a problem for the industry.  “We wanted to have more consistency in our guards, and so when I came over to ADT, I saw an opportunity to introduce something to the market,” said Bacco, an industry veteran who previously worked at Amazon and the US Department of Homeland Security.[1]


The Security Industry Association, an international trade body, said a shortage of workers is a long-established factor limiting growth within the sector.  In the UK, more than 60,000 security officers will be shortfall this year, said the country’s trade association.  ADT Commercial has invested in 1X, a robotics company, and is trialing 10 of its humanoid robots both at its monitoring center and some customer locations.

One android is stationed at ADT’s monitoring center in Dallas, where it checks the premises for signs of disturbance or intrusion.  Once an irregularity is detected, it will alert a human guard equipped with a VR headset.  “One of the really big powers of our system . . . is that when something happens, we’re able actually to step into the android from a remote location,” said 1X chief executive Bernt Øivind Børnich.  “One of the major strengths that 1X brings is to be able to operate in the avatar mode,” said Bacco.  “They can be in London . . . controlling the [robot] in California.” In its latest funding round earlier this year, 1X raised $23.5mn, backed by investors including New York venture capital fund Tiger Global and OpenAI’s Startup Fund, valuing the firm at just over $200mn, according to data group PitchBook.

At the University of Nevada in Reno, a robot will soon be used to patrol a parking garage near the university’s student center.  Eric James, chief of the university police department’s northern command, said it would add “to the value of humans.”  The university signed a contract with Nasdaq-listed Knightscope in May.  The robotics start-up is working with a range of organizations, including Santa Rosa Mall in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and Coppertree Village, a residential community in Houston, as well as several US locations for security groups Allied Universal and Securitas.

The Silicon Valley-based company was founded by chair and chief executive William Santana Li and chief client officer Stacy Dean Stephens in 2013 in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook, the Boston bombings, and the 9/11 attacks 2001.  Knightscope said some of its robots have been trained to detect weapons and gunshots automatically, and some record at eye level and utilize facial recognition. In contrast, others are stationary and perform the role of physical deterrence.  “The robots are coming,” said Li.  “It’s happening; this is not science fiction.” 1X believes its EVE android also offers a solution.  “Most of our robots right now go into security,” said Børnich.  Customers seeking EVE for security are mainly from the space and aerospace sectors, said 1X.  The android can open doors, including heavy spring-loaded fire doors, and conduct patrols autonomously.  Ava Robotics, spun out of iRobot, the company behind autonomous vacuum cleaner Roomba, has partnered with building technology business Johnson Controls to bring its security robot to the market. “Our robots are designed to augment and automate repetitive tasks, [while] addressing labor shortages,” said Youssef Saleh, co-founder and chief executive of Ava Robotics.  The robots will also help experts to access spaces remotely, he said.  Steve Jones, chair and chief executive of the world’s largest private security group, Allied Universal, said the technology “will continue to evolve over the coming years.”  He cautioned that cameras and other surveillance equipment were frequently used as part of an organization’s security strategy, “the use of robots is not commonplace, and the types of services they provide are very limited today.”  GardaWorld is even less convinced.  “I don’t see . . . guards being replaced by robots” in the immediate future, said chief executive Stephan Crétier.  Despite this uncertainty, the technology continues to evolve.  Last year, global venture capital investment in robotics and drone companies focusing on security totaled $814mn, up from $434mn in 2018, according to PitchBook.  Alessandro Morra, the chief executive of start-up Ascento, said security robots could be programmed to do some of the work of parking attendants, monitoring the use and security of a car park while automatically generating a report.

Ascento’s robots have two large wheels and a camera that can be used by human guards in a command center to “see what the robots see,” said Mora.  The robots learn a set of tasks during a “teach period,” such as routinely checking that a door is closed, and can move autonomously to a desired location and report findings to a human guard, according to Mora.  In an era of labor shortages, he added that having staff employed “to just walk along a fence all day long” did not make sense.  But Mora said technology will augment human labor and not simply replace it.  He described robots working alongside people as a combination that “can make a massive shift in the industry.”


This article is presented at no charge for educational and informational purposes only.

Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization and has reported extensively on AI technology.  For questions, comments or assistance, please get in touch with the office directly at 1-844-492-7225, or    

Weekly Cyber Intelligence Briefings:

Weekly Cyber Intelligence Briefings:

REDSHORTS - Weekly Cyber Intelligence Briefings



E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Red Sky Alliance to add comments!