by Ray Bernard PSP, CHS-III
Based upon this reader’s question, it looks like the word is starting to get out about the usefulness of using unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for security patrols and inspections.
Q: We don’t have security officers at our facility, but we do have intrusion detection, access control and security video, and my IT department is responsible for those systems. Our COO asked me if our wireless network would support small security robots performing patrols during non-business hours. Was he kidding me?
A: Maybe, but maybe not. He may have heard of them from a colleague at another company, at a business conference, or even a TV news report.
The idea of using a small UGVs, commonly called rover, for security patrols and inspections first appealed to me a few years ago when I was performing a site security survey at a desert-located satellite transmitter station. I was instructed by the facilities director not to get out of my car once I had driven off the paved parking lot and onto the dirt road surrounding the facility, due to the prevalence of rattlesnakes on the property. Yes, I did see them as I drove around, and needless to say, I stayed in my car. However, when I rolled down the windows to take photographs, that is when I learned about the local wasp population. Since then, I have encountered many situations where rovers would have been a helpful tool.
In 2002, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center published, “A Brief History of the Lunar Roving Vehicle”, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of astronauts driving the first lunar roving vehicle on the surface of the moon. As of 2013, three countries had rovers on the Moon: the Soviet Union, the United States and China. So the rover idea is certainly not new.
On May 10th of this year, here on earth, the Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC) announced the formation of the Robolliance program (www.robolliance.com), which is a forum for technology partners and industry experts in robotics, surveillance and security to advance the understanding and awareness of the Autonomous Robotics marketplace. Sharp Robotics Business Development (SRBD), a division of SEC, founded the Robolliance program to bring together organizations and individuals who are thought leaders and early adopters of robotic technology.
Getting Up to Speed
The Robolliance website is a good starting point to learn what various industry leaders are thinking about rover security applications. One of the Robolliance sponsors is Rajant (www.rajant.com), a company whose mesh network technology is designed for a level of robustness and mobility support that is well-suited for rover applications.
Making the Business Case for Robotics
As with considering any technology, a first step is determining if business case exists for its application. The overall mission of security is to reduce security risks to acceptable levels, at an acceptable cost. Thus, with regard to the use of rover technology, a rover application must provide more security-effectiveness, more cost-effectiveness, more human safety—at least one of the three—before it would make sense to deploy any rovers.
A good first step is to download and review the Robolliance white paper, “Preparing Your Organization for Adding UGVs to its Security Workforce: A Change Management Perspective”. The paper contains a checklist of the items that must be considered by Security (or if there is no security function, the individual responsible for facility security), IT, Facilities Management, and a security systems integrator.
A good second step is to contact one of the security integrator Robolliance sponsors, to determine the current costs of rover technology that is available from companies such as SMP Robotics (http://smprobotics.com).
Write to Ray about this column at ConvergenceQA@go-rbcs.com. Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788. Mr. Bernard is also a member of the Content Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (www.SecurityExecutiveCouncil.com). Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS
© 2016 Ray Bernard