The role of security guards is vital and often necessary, but their deployment can be limited by cost and availability. In Switzerland, residents have had the opportunity to witness the potential of a patrol bot developed by robotics start-up Ascento, affiliated with ETH Zurich. This innovative machine has shown promise as a replacement for human security guards, already serving as a guard for Swiss security firm Securitas AG.

A video released by ETH Zurich showcases the remarkable agility of this new security guard, enabling it to patrol various locations seamlessly. The robot’s capability to monitor diverse terrains with precision raises the question: Can it match the attention and responsiveness of a human guard? The incident involving a RoboCop in 2019 sparked skepticism when it failed to assist a woman in need despite her activating the emergency button. The incident highlighted the need for better integration and protocols for such robotic systems.

At that time, the HP RoboCops, manufactured and leased by Knightscope, were not directly linked to police departments. Instead, pressing the emergency button contacted Knightscope, who then had to relay the information to the police. The situation underscored the importance of refining protocols to ensure efficient and effective deployment of these technologies. Cosme Lozano, chief of police at Huntington Park, stated that the program was still in development and not yet ready for full adoption.

Recently, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a range of crime-fighting robots for patrolling subway stations across the city. These machines are part of pilot programs set to be implemented in the upcoming summer. Mayor Eric Adams expressed the city’s commitment to exploring innovative technologies to enhance safety and protect residents, visitors, and commuters.

The hope is that these new robotic security systems in both Switzerland and New York City will prove more successful in preventing and deterring crime than the incident with the RoboCop. By continuously improving the integration, protocols, and capabilities of these robotic guards, they have the potential to play a significant role in enhancing surveillance and safety in various settings. While human guards will likely continue to be essential, the introduction of advanced robotic systems offers a promising step forward in the realm of security.

By Impact Lab