Security Robots on Patrol
How a security robot, the first one employed in Arizona, acts as a visual deterrent as well as an information-gathering machine.
Joe Gustafson likes to “think out of the box.” So when his team at the Twin Arrows Casino in Flagstaff, AZ, had a lull in staffing and needed solutions to assist security officers with their job duties, Gustafson asked for a security robot.
“The typical ‘fixes’ presented themselves, which is work with what you have,” he says. “But because of my involvement as a board of directors member for the Arizona InfraGard, I started to think about the accessibility of AI or some variant of it for the private sector. Would it be feasible to use something of this nature in a security application? If so, how viable of an option would it be?”
Gustafson, who is Director of Security at the casino, found Knightscope’s Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs) for security applications that offer 360 degree HD cameras, thermal imaging, license plate recognition, two-way intercom communication, people detection and various other capabilities and sensors. He also learned that the ADMs had never been used in a casino environment.
“The model I was looking at (K5) is a large machine that weighs almost 400 pounds, so it offers a physical presence and that alone is a deterrent,” Gustafson says. “Another benefit is that it patrols our property and significantly and effectively increases our security footprint, allowing us to further project our security force and cover more area in less time while collecting more data.”
Before he proceeded, Gustafson says he had to consider any potential negative aspects of using an ADM. “First was the mindset, ‘Robots are taking jobs,’” he says. “From research I’ve done, robots actually create more jobs than they replace because you need more people maintaining them on the backend. I think once you explain it to people and they know what you are using them for, they are much more receptive because it makes sense. In our case, we are using the ADM to perform the mundane, routine, day to day tasks that our regular security officers would do. And the ADM will do it more accurately because it is human nature to get bored or complacent and make mistakes doing the same thing day in and day out.
“The ADM can also gather much more information with its onboard sensors that a human would ever be able to,” he adds. “The K5 is meant to take care of the routine computationally heavy lifting of routine tasks and data gathering and relay that information to our operations center allowing our human staff to make the actual decisions using more accurate data. This will also help free up our security officers to be able to handle more complex situations.”
While Gustafson was quickly sold on the idea of implementing the ADM, he needed to ensure that his General Manager and the Arizona gaming commission understood the benefits, as well. “When I first pitched the idea to my General Manager, he seemed hesitant, and rightfully so. However, he did realize the benefits.”
There are no concerns with the Arizona Department of Gaming, says Gustafson, but he did receive prior approval. He also notes that the Department has a clause in their compact that notes that casino security is allowed to have their own supplemental surveillance equipment, separate from regulatory requirements.
Gustafson is pleased with the K5 and would like to add more security robots to his security team. “Overall, we are decreasing liability by not only increasing the casino’s security footprint and providing additional security, but also by allowing me and my team to gather data for follow up and forensic reviews. An example would be in a use of force scenario,” he says. “Not only would the ADM be able to capture audio, it would also give 360-degree video from the security officer’s level and their point of view rather that an obscure overhead shot of a fixed camera.”