Cobalt Close Up

AI & Security Podcast

The Apple of an Industry? An Artificial Intelligence Security Robot

On Oct 15, 2018
When I think of Apple and their products, I think professional, sleek, quality.  To me, everything about that brand gives the feeling of the best. It doesn’t hurt that I’m an “Apple guy”, but I think my opinion is widely shared, even amongst dedicated Windows and Android users.  In 2017 when I was introduced to Cobalt Robotics, my immediate thought was, “These guys could become the Apple of the Security Industry.”   After all, they were founded just down the street from them, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

 Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 8.50.19 AMTheir security robot stands at 5’1” tall, with its blue fabric wrapped around its tapered cylinder with a tablet on the front, all giving it that sleek look and feel. The design was made in partnership with fuseproject, one of the world’s most renowned industrial design firms(click on the video to learn more about the design).   Because it was designed to work indoors, it doesn’t have the feel of ruggedness needed for outdoor protection nor does it have the need to look intimidating to thwart potential trespassers.  This security robot was designed and built for a specific purpose, and part of that was to make people feel comfortable while it operates, or better described, works, around them.

 Another difference between Cobalt and other technology in the security industry is that its founders came from outside the industry.  Co-founders Travis Deyle and Erik Schluntz first met while working at Google.  Travis holds a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech with an impressive background within the robotics world.  Erik holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering, earing both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University (Go Crimson!).  His prior work experience included SpaceX, where he helped to develop a new fuel system for the Falcon9 rocket.  So perhaps you could say, these robots are out of this world?

In 2016 Erik and Travis created the idea of a security robot, but without prior industry experience or, just as important, bias, they researched the market, talking to CSOs and leaders in the industry to determine if the robot would meet a need.  Once they knew had merit, they designed the prototype, raised capital, and began testing their concept in the Bay area. As they approach the end of 2018, they have their first full production run in progress, with those units nearly sold out.  

Another difference between Cobalt and others in the industry stems from their focused scope.  They aren’t trying to be all things to everyone.  They aren’t trying to service every industry, every location, and every area in or outside a building.  Their focus is interior patrols during nights and weekends.

They also know that the robot is just one part of their solution.  The human pilot operating from their HQ in San Mateo, CA is just as integral. Together, the robot and the pilot, create Cobalt as a Service offering.  They say their service “combines the superhuman sensing, unwavering attention, and perfect recall of a machine with the warmth, creativity, and face-to-face interaction of a remote human specialist.”  Together they create a cost-effective solution for monitoring warehouses, office spaces, museums, and other key indoor locations as compared to the cost and benefits from human security officers and CCTV.  You’ll hear them say, “Let the robots do what they do best and let the humans do what they do best”.

All that comes back to my original thought.  Will Cobalt Robotics become the Apple of the security industry?  Only time will tell, but as we enter the final quarter of 2018, to me, all signs are pointing in that direction.  We see big things coming from Cobalt, and others in the security robot world, as this new technology takes hold in 2019.

In today’s podcast I interview Mark McCourt, the head of Sales & Businesses Development for Cobalt.  Mark and I first met while working together at Allied Universal, and it was Mark who first introduced me to the security robotics world.  It was a pleasure to sit down (actually we stood up) at the Cobalt booth at the GSX show in Las Vegas for the interview.   Learn as we discuss the power of the design of the robot on human behavior, how Cobalt is working to get the robot on elevators, and how the human-in-the-loop is as integral to their operations as is the robot.

If you want to learn how design plays an import role in effectiveness of the robot, how Cobalt is tackling multi floor operations, and most importantly for Cobalt, how to buy or procure a robot, please listen to the podcast here, on iTunes, or where ever you get your podcasts.  Enjoy.

 

Dennis Crowley

By Dennis Crowley

Dennis is the Managing Member of Belenus Holdings. With over 25 years in the security industry, he has extensive experience within the manned guarding industry as well as the security technology sector. Dennis is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Harvard University, and Suffolk University Law School. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, ASIS International, BOMA International, and YPO.

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