The new partner of security officers is a robot and it is Portuguese
This robot is Portuguese and it patrols areas by itself; it is capable of detecting smoke, gas, water and people. Equipped with cameras and sensors, the aim with this robot is to facilitate the work of security officers. However, it will not replace them.
The robot is about 1.60 meters high and tapered, wider at the bottom for stability. This invention, which does not have a name yet, acts as a surveillance officer and can be some sort of partner to humans as they can be programmed according to their needs.
"It can be remotely operated or make the rounds, because it recognises the place", explained Carlos Pinho, the project manager at the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering of Porto (INESC TEC). For that, it is only necessary to mark some points on a map and export them to the robot.
Using the sensors for smoke, humidity, carbon monoxide, movement, among others, the robot "can detect different types of threats and automatically send an alarm to the human operators which configure the sensitivity of the sensors”, says the project manager.
Therefore, the robot adapts to different spaces and environments, such as factories or shopping centres. "In a factory, for example, the set temperature is higher than in a shopping centre. [The security operator] is only alerted when there are alarms that go beyond that which was defined", states Carlos Pinho.
Other features of the robot are the high definition thermal and 360-degree vision modes, which make it possible to detect human forms and are particularly useful when the human security officers must be absent. The robot transmits video streams in real time and sends notifications when abnormal events occur. It is also capable of taking photos in the absence of light, using an infrared sensor.
The robot can also recognise license plates, which are then compared with those marked as suspect in databases. Therefore, the robot can be used in parking lots. "And with thermal cameras, using the temperature of the engine and tires, the robot can detect if the car has just arrived", he adds.
The project manager highlights, however, that the robot was created to serve as "a complement to the existing security activities" as it always depends on humans for an effective supervision. "When faced with a threat, the robot cannot take action. It does not even have arms", explains Carlos Pinho. "It can walk around a person, but cannot even overturn it", he adds, stressing the importance of robots in operations that may involve risks to human security officers.
The experimental robot is now patrolling the corridors of the Lionesa Business Center in Leça do Balio, Porto. "The human operators have really enjoyed working with the robot and have acknowledged that it is useful", said the project manager.
In the future, the plan is to export the prototype, which is the result of an industry consortium and was developed at INESC TEC. The robot is currently in its certification phase and by the end of the year some units should be produced and commercialised.
Público, 9 July 2012