With 20 Acres to Protect, a Luxury Car Maker Adds Robots to Its Security Force – and Miles to its Daily Patrols

Vehicle-processing centers can be a mind-blowing sight—an ocean of cars as far as the eye can see. The security test such vastness presents is immediately obvious: How can you possibly patrol that?

A luxury car maker—facing just that challenge—was open to trying a cutting-edge solution: using patrol robots as a security-force multiplier.

If it worked, it would address a significant security dilemma. As it was, the car maker faced several options—none of them good. It could divert security officers away from posts at the gate and other critical duties to perform security patrols and fence integrity inspections. It could staff-up to meet patrol needs but that would blow-up the security budget. Or it could simply skimp on patrols and hope thieves and vandals didn’t breach its perimeter.

We needed proof-of-concept as the idea of adding robots to the security mix was enticing. Robots might free-up human officers to maximize the unique value they provide, as well as do what humans can’t, such as tirelessly perform patrols 24/7 and unfailingly identify anomalies no matter how routine or monotonous the chore. “The car maker also liked the idea of a patrol force that has, literally, eyes in the back of their head,” said a senior technology executive at U.S. Security Associates (USA).

Putting the Future to the Test
Keen to see if today’s security robots are ready to deliver on the productivity gains they promise, the car maker conducted a trial at its 20-acre vehicle intake center in Georgia of P3 Robotics℠, one part of USAs’ exclusive P3 Technology Platform℠. Utilizing multiterrain mobile sensor unmanned vehicles, with the software platform to work in conjunction with the firm’s Security Officers to provide an additional layer of security and safety coverage and another node in USA’s Intelligent Officer Network℠.

The car maker saw enormous potential—automating the less critical aspects of safeguarding 8,000 vehicles would be a big boost to its protection mission—but important questions needed to be answered. Could patrol robots operate side-by-side with trucks and cars and not get run over or cause an accident?

Would their use truly translate into a more productive security force? And, perhaps most fundamentally, is patrol robot technology really ready for prime time?

A winning Result
Performance during the pilot exceeded the car maker’s expectations. The company quickly signed on to have P3 Robotics enhance protection at its Georgia vehicle processing center for a multi-year commitment, and it’s making plans to extend the solution to two additional intake facilities in coming months.

The most obvious benefit? Before the addition of P3 Robotics to the security team, the car maker was managing to conduct 18 patrols over a 24-hour period: four during the day, 6 in the afternoon, and 8 overnight. After deployment, and now with 24/7 patrol and observational capability, the car maker is averaging 3 full rounds each hour, 24 per shift, and 72 per day—a 300 percent increase. All told, the car maker found that P3 Robotics provides it with roughly five times the security presence.

With robots now managing miles of perimeter fence checks, security officers—rather than being stuck in cars on patrol—are free to multi-task in the control room and to focus on more critical safety and security functions, including managing and documenting vehicle assets at the gate, interacting with people coming onto the lot, enforcing safety protocols, and responding to events.

Additionally, the new team member is leveraging the ability of human officers to proactively manage security, by analyzing intelligence that the mobile security units gather during patrols for patterns or indicators of risk. Facilitating that analysis is the fact that the patrols now provide uniform data collection, rather than reports written by individual officers.

In addition to more consistent visible deterrence, the value of patrols has also improved, with on-board cameras providing full documentation of all activity and providing an indisputable record of incidents. On patrol, mobile security units perform much like their human counterparts—but with a computer’s brain. They navigate their route, live stream video, act as two-way intercom to interact with people on the lot, collect environmental data, and employ analytics to alert officers in the control room if it spots an attempted perimeter breach or any other anomaly. Put to the test in mock intrusion scenario during the pilot phase, the robots passed with flying colors, and the car maker is now able to identify trespassers in different light conditions. Finally, trial results put to rest any concern the car maker had over collisions between vehicles and the patrol units, with the two quickly learning to safely share the road.

Fundamentally, the results proved that mobile security units are both important to the future of security and ready for application today. “The cost of labor goes up over time and the cost of technology goes down, so it makes sense to look at robots as a force multiplier,” noted a senior technology executive at USA.

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