Today’s enterprise organizations look to advanced technology to reduce risk, whether deploying a video surveillance system, access control solution or video analytics that can track potential threats and thwart them before they become real emergencies. All of these tools work together to formulate a comprehensive, holistic approach to security. But new technology is emerging that not only automates more mundane and potentially dangerous jobs, but also offers increased return-on-investment (ROI) and reduced liability.

Security robots offer end users and enterprise security leaders the ability to deploy cutting-edge technology to improve operational efficiencies, safely and securely patrol large areas, and integrate seamlessly with existing security investments. But that’s not all. Robots are poised to offer organizations a reduction in liability – and subsequently worker’s compensation and insurance premiums – based on their increased usage.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: A History

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in security is a continuation of the evolution of automation and continued application of various technologies as security consumers seek to improve their operations. In fact, there are elements within video analytics that encompass the capabilities that security directors already have in place. Automated processes that supplement human abilities are now monitoring real-time surveillance footage from dozens or hundreds of cameras, pulling critical information – such as a person approaching a restricted area – to alert security teams to emerging incidents and threats.

Security robots, which use AI and advanced navigation software to “learn” the world around them, help organizations deter crime and vandalism, resolve liability claims faster and integrate with critical pieces of a security solution to give security leaders comprehensive situational awareness for an emerging event. Robotics, too, are used to reduce risk to not only businesses in the form of monetary assets, but also in human capital.

Reducing Risk: Human Capital

From a customer standpoint, end users must weigh the cost of liability and worker’s compensation insurance with protecting employees from harm – a decision that can be addressed with the implementation of emerging technology. It is critical for organizations to weigh these decisions on how to best protect their employees.

There are a number of dangerous jobs out there that require humans to be present, but many security-related roles can see significant risk reduced to workers by implementing robotic guards. In the legal sense, many of these jobs fall under inherently dangerous work, in which employers and employees knowingly proceed to work in dangerous situations. For example, security patrol officers at a toxic waste storage facility or nuclear power plant. These are situations whereby simply performing a job within the scope of the orders from the employer could still cause the employee harm.

Inherently dangerous work is generally covered by worker’s compensation insurance; however, if there are dangers encountered that were unknown to the employer or landowner, the employer may be responsible and it may be outside of worker’s compensation coverage. If the employer was negligent to provide suitable warnings or protections for the employee, the employer could be further liable for significant punitive damages. This is an extremely high-risk situation to be in for an organization, which is where security robots can seamlessly step in to provide significant security coverage and severely limit these risks.

Reducing Risk: Business

On the other side of the coin, the legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior ensures that an employer is liable for all the negligent actions of an employee. This is why a company may be sued when an employee does something harmful, even if the employee’s harmful actions were against company policy. Since the company put the employee in the position where the employee could cause harm, there was a known risk. This means that the company accepted that risk by placing the employee in the situation, so they had foresight as to the possibility of the harm and, as a result, are responsible.

When used properly, security robots reduce the risk associated with the above by severely limiting the amount of “bad stuff” that can be done while on patrol. Whereas a human security officer can get into real trouble, a robot guard has limited options to cross into a dangerous threshold, as the robot does not have the freedom to make irresponsible decisions. This reduces the risk to the guarding company and the company for whom the guarding company is working.

Robotic guards also play a significant role in reducing cost on worker’s compensation. For example, let’s say a security officer has a worker’s compensation package rate of 18 percent of his or her wages. In some instances, this number can be as high as 30 percent – based on the risk involved in the security detail and the direct correlation with the probability that the worker would file a claim. It is well known that this is a necessity when workers are exposed to more dangerous situations.

Security robots can reduce this cost significantly for organizations by being placed in more dangerous situations reducing the liability in the event of an incident. By reducing the amount of hours for human exposure, you would also reduce the amount an organization would pay for worker’s compensation which can vary based on a guard’s role in an organization.

For today’s enterprise organizations, aligning the parallel priorities of protecting employees from harm and ensuring risk is minimized to keep costs and liability down is critical. As such, emerging technology, such as the abilities offered by security robots has the potential to significantly reduce cost and protect staff. The industry is poised to take this technology further, merging the information gathered from a number of sources to streamline operational efficiencies, integrate with business systems and increase situational awareness in today’s evolving risk environments.


**This article first appeared in Security Magazine. Read it here.