The most difficult aspect of a security guard’s jobs are the long boring hours where nothing happens. Cobalt, a robotics startup, thinks it can help out with a mostly autonomous, slightly stealthy security robot.
The robot, which was announced on Wednesday, hasn’t been released to the public yet, but the startup dropped a video showing the robot moving along its daily tasks. In the video, the robot uses a combination of camera and sensor technology to identify both people and changes in the building it works. With a touch screen panel face and a cloth-covered body shaped like a milk pitcher, the indoor security robot glides around the floor looking for people around like a working version of No Face in Spirited Away.
Cobalt was started by Erik Schluntz, a former SpaceX engineer, and Travis Deyle, a former Google X engineer. The company describes the robot, which has a remote pilot on call in case of emergencies, saying: “We pair the consistency of machines with the flexibility of humans. Robots operate continuously to implement your security policies.”
The indoor security robot glides along using 60 different sensors to identify unusual activity where it’s patrolling. It uses a combination of 360-degree cameras, thermal imaging, and laser scanners to map its environment, similar to how an autonomous car sees around it. The combination of features could signal the end of hiding from security so you can keep working in the library after it closes (and, uh, stealing), since the robot can see heat signatures.
The security robot builds a map of the building where it will work that includes doors, windows, and environmental conditions and alerts its pilot if any of those things change. While the robot can interact with people in its environment by scanning badges and counting bodies, its touch screen allows people to also contact the pilot, which makes the security robot easier to trust. The pilot is also able to take control from the security robot in complicated situations in order to get people to safety.
The robot is not humanoid, but is designed to be easy to interact with in a comfortable way — a move seen in the design of other helper robots. The soft fabric is meant to make the robot look more friendly “while fitting in with your office,” according to the launch website. All it needs now is a friendlier name. What about Carla?