Houston Methodist Hospital has added two new members to its security team — a pair of robots that patrol the halls on wheels. Made by security technology company, Knightscope, the robots stand just over 4-feet tall and go by the names Watson and Holmes. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Mobile Robots and Drones 2018-2038.
"If you watch Star Wars, it kind of looks like R2D2," said Hadji Sarr, the hospital's director of public safety.
The robots cover a specific route each day and are equipped with 360-degree cameras, an emergency button, and a two-way audio system that allows people to communicate with security personnel. They also have object avoidance sensors to prevent them from crashing into people.
"If you're in distress or need help, you can call a button on the robot and it will come straight to our central dispatch," said Sarr.
While the robots don't replace human personnel, Sarr said they help provide extra security coverage around the hospital.
"Houston Methodist is like a city within a city. While we have officers, it's never enough to have eyes everywhere — just like we have over 1,500 cameras, those cameras will never be enough because we don't have them everywhere," he said. "Where the robots come into play will be to add to those eyes where officers cannot make it. Our dispatchers are able to see what the robots are seeing."
The robots can also broadcast pre-recorded public safety reminders or live messages in case of an emergency.
But so far, Saar says, visitors have mostly been interested in taking selfies with the robots.
"It's amazing how many people, I mean pretty much everybody comes and stops and takes selfies with the robots," he said. "On top of security it's also a customer service piece; we're able to see more, we're able to communicate more, and we're also able to make people happy by having them around."
Source and top image: University of Houston
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