Britain has just released its first robot guard, Bob. The autonomous security guard is the most recent recruit by G4s to aid in securing their headquarters in Gloucestershire. The intelligent machine is programmed to know when everything is in place, and when something askew is noticed: the guard stores the information on a hard-drive and swiftly reports it to its human partner. The droid is outfitted with a personal ID badge and is a welcome member to the office.
The android has self-sustaining abilities as well. It can speak to its associates, plug himself in to recharge when he is low on battery, and ask for assistance when stuck. The robot is blue to increase visibility, and costs £7.2 million ($12.2 million). The electronic guard was created and piloted by the University of Birmingham. This a significant step towards their goal to populate the offices of Britain, and the world, with robots.
G4s spokesman, Stewart Angell, stated that Bob is not meant to replace human security personnel. The current security force is efficient, adaptable, and makes decisions quickly. Bob is only meant to be a complementary device to patrol the area overnight, or on low-level activities that a human guard doesn’t necessarily need to be involved with.
The robot knows the floor plan of the Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire office and rolls from room to room filming in 3D and scanning. If it notices something is different from his last visit, Bob records it and sends it to a human security guard. By using cameras and scanners, The robot is able to create a map of the surrounding area, marking the location of desks and chairs, detect people moving, and analyzing and recording how the environment changes.
Bob, Britain’s first released robot guard, is not very adept with his hands, but extremely efficient with its eyes and memory according to one of its creators: Dr. Nick Hawes. Hawes states that ideally Bob should not be used to manipulate objects, but to analyze an area. The computer scientist believes that Bob would be ideal as a night or day watchman or patrol guard.
The goal for Hawes and his colleagues is to witness Bob survive on his own for at least 15 days: completing useful security tasks optimally. A similar robot, also launched by the Computer Science Department in the University of Birmingham, is being tested in Vienna, Austria. Its name is Werner. Werner performs all the duties that Bob can, but also is being tested to see if the technology is capable of playing games with humans.
The news of Britain releasing its first robot guard: Bob, follows a Tokyo-based firm’s creation of an android that can read human emotions. The droid is named Pepper, and is sold for $1,900. Pepper uses an emotional engine and cloud-based artificial intelligence to observe human speech tones, gestures, and expressions. The field of robotics is one of today’s fastest growing industries, but also the most worrying. With economists and tech analysts suggesting that 50 percent of the world’s jobs will be given to androids by 2050.
By Andres Loubriel