US school tests AI robot security guard

The rise in school shootings have forced administrations to get creative with security.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The school's new security robot.jpg
The school's new security robot.


In the wake of rising incidents of shootings in schools, administrations are getting creative with security. A school in New Mexico in the United States has started a pilot program in which a robot patrols the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

This is according to a report by the Wall Street Journal published on Friday.

This machine currently deployed in Santa Fe High School is currently training to learn the school's normal activities in order to identify and flag individuals who are seen in the campus after hours or exhibit aggressive behavior.

Should an active shooter present themselves or any other form of threat arise, the robot will alert the security team. It will then proceed to move towards the intruder and transmit video footage to aid law enforcement officers in adopting an appropriate course of action.

The robot is fully autonomous, has seven cameras and is built to withstand a variety of weather changes. 

The robot is currently not armed since the school has opted to disable the robot's weapon detection features during the pilot test but it can confront a hostile individual and allow security team members to interact with him or her through the machine's communication system.

Santa Fe Public School's executive director of safety and security Mario Salbidrez told the Wall Street Journal that the school is considering activating the robot’s weapons feature at a later date.

In terms of data collection, it was reported that the school owns its video footage and has final say on whether or not to save it.

In the case of a severe threat, the robot is programmed to take more aggressive action like pointing a laser beam at the suspect's chest and asking them to drop their weapons.

Luckily, as of the time of the report, the robot has only spotted and flagged new workers who are entering the school construction site and a few individuals trying to open locked doors.

Video footage currently collected by the robot reveals faculty members waving to the cameras and students making peace signs. For the most part, the robot’s presence does not seem to have phased anyone on campus.

Last May, we reported that people living in Switzerland had been privy to witnessing a patrol bot, developed by a robotics start-up from ETH Zurich called Ascento, that could soon take the place of human security guards. The machine had thus far been successfully acting as a guard for Swiss security firm Securitas AG and had proven to be very agile and efficient.

Could this spell the end of human security guards?

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