In the upcoming comedy television series, Mr. Mayor, there’s a scene where Ted Danson’s character states he “is very open to the idea of a robot police force.” The statement is portrayed as something completely ridiculous and potentially harmful to the character’s election campaign. While the clip is exaggerated and meant to get a laugh, the use of autonomous security and surveillance robots as part of a public safety or private security workforce isn’t completely unheard of. Before the pandemic, the global security robots market was projected to reach $2.71 Billion by 2021.
Robots have been assisting humans since the 1950s, beginning with Waldo, a pair of human-controlled robotic arms used to handle nuclear waste. Since then, robots have evolved from human-controlled stationary machines to mobile, automated devices with artificial intelligence capability. How can the advancements in this technology be effectively used for security by public and private organizations?
- Greater Mobility – They can cover a large area, which would typically require multiple human guards. Some are also capable of navigating complex terrain.
- Cost-effective Longevity – By substituting a robot for a human, a company would not have to pay salary or fringe benefits since robots don’t suffer from sickness, stress, or fatigue.
- Superior Task Management – They’re good at completing repetitive, mundane tasks without error, plus their ability to record interactions and analyze data makes them suitable for crime prevention and reporting.
- Enhanced Safety Protocols – Robots can be used to detect possible terrorist activity by reporting suspicious packages and potentially diffusing a bomb without human intervention in the future. They can also combat the spread of Covid-19 by enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing without putting a human at risk for contracting the disease.
Will robots completely replace humans? The simple answer is no. Common sense doesn’t come naturally to all people, and in robots, it is nonexistent. While robots can be programmed to complete tasks, they cannot detect situational nuances or react to the unexpected, essential for public security. With that said, a combination of human patrols and autonomous security robots could prove beneficial in today’s age and is currently utilized by organizations worldwide. How to maximize the use of robot security is still dependent on human decisions… at least for now.
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LISTEN: Here Come the Robots, Security Matters Podcast, Ep. 3