Swiss startup puts a new spin on the security robot market

Developed by a spinoff from ETH Zurich, the Ascento Guard is the newest kid on the block for autonomous security robots. It also happens to be very cute.
Christopher McFadden
Just look how cute it is!

ETH Zurich/ YouTube  

A Swiss startup called Ascento has recently unveiled its novel and adorable new security robot called the Ascento Guard. An autonomous outdoor security robot's standout features are its wheeled "legs" and cartoon-esque, almost anthropomorphic "face."

Cute autonomous security

The Ascento Guard robot has a central chassis with circular "eye" stand-ins that blink and rectangular, orange hazard lights that serve as eyebrows. While charging, the robot's eyes appear "closed" to mimic sleep but open when the robot is on patrol duty. Its agile "wheel-leg" setup allegedly allows for precise movements across different terrains, making it unique. Potential clients can also brand the robot with their own logos if desired.

The robot has been specifically designed for patrolling large, private outdoor properties, and the company already has clients in industries such as manufacturing, data centers, pharmaceutical production centers, and warehouses.  If the robot detects a security threat, such as an intruder, it can alert human security guards via its accompanying app.

The Ascento Guard can be set up in just a few hours and become virtually autonomous via programmable patrol schedules. It can survey perimeters at a walking speed of approximately 2.8 mph (4.5 kph) and monitor for fires or break-ins using thermal and infrared cameras. Its onboard speakers and microphones allow for end-to-end encrypted two-way communications, while its video cameras can control parking lots. The robot is also all-weather, reports Ascento.

Ascento was founded by its CEO Alessandro Morra, CTO Miguel de la Iglesia Valls, Ciro Salzmann, and Dominik Mannhart. The project started at ETH Zurich in 2018, and, reports TechCrunch, the company has grown to ten employees. Ascento is also reportedly seeking new hires for its sales and operations team to expand its fleet of Ascento Guards.

Currently, the global security industry has a staff turnover rate as high as 47% each year, according to Alessandro Morra, co-founder and CEO of Ascento. “Labor shortages mean a lack of qualified personnel available to do the work which involves long shifts, during anti-social hours or in bad weather,” explained Morra in an Ascento press release. “The traditional approach is to use either people or fixed installed cameras… The Ascento Guard provides the best of both worlds," he added.

Since the company released videos of its new robot on the 12th of September (2023), Morra explains that Ascento has since received “hundreds of requests” to use the robots for different industries. “With our technology, we could do substantially more economically and more thoroughly, as machines don’t get tired of repetitive tasks,” Morra added. He also explained that having robots working with human security guards helps address problems like high staff turnover and low margins for security companies.

Just the beginning

Ascento currently focuses on companies with large assets requiring daily patrols, such as manufacturing, logistics, pharma, and luxury real estate. Ascento Guard’s design is just the beginning for the company. “We are seeing multiple opportunities [to] complement our robot to offer an indoor, aerial, application integration of our technology,” Morra said. “The robot is the way to support the most acute problem, labor shortage. But the true value we will deliver is analyzing the captured data with AI,” he added.

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