Having led the Harvard-MIT robotics team, Erik Schluntz is now on the forefront the smart robot...
Robot Specialists: The human side of Cobalt’s security robots
Robots are the most tangible part of Cobalt’s security services. Our robots are extremely capable in their own right; but like any tool (technological or otherwise), robots today have limitations. Machines are good at some things: perfect recall, unwavering attention, super-human sensing, etc. But they are not so good at other things.
At Cobalt, we complement machines with remote human “Specialists.” By giving great tools to exceptionally smart and empathetic people, we can deliver a service that just works.
What is a Specialist, and what tasks do they perform?
A Cobalt Specialist plays four critical roles:
- 1. Security guard: When robots detect people, motion, sounds, leaks/spills, or other environmental risks (i.e. anomalies), the sophisticated AI system sometimes responds automatically. But sometimes it doesn’t know how to respond—security is full of weird outlier events. In these cases, robots can immediately notify a Specialist. The Specialist quickly gains situational awareness, triages the incident, promptly informs the necessary personnel (when required), and reliably reports back to the security team. Specialists remotely monitor a fleet of Cobalt robots, essentially allowing a single person to be in many places at once all across an organization. Working hand-in-hand with robots and building systems (e.g. access control), our Specialists log which employees, vendors, and janitorial staff are accessing a facility after-hours, so there is complete accountability about what’s happening inside a building.
- 2. Pilot: Most of the time, Cobalt’s robots autonomously patrol and look for anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes a Specialist may want to take direct control of a robot—commanding it to move to new locations, performing new patrols, and even remotely driving a robot when needed. For example, if the robot detects a fire alarm, the Specialist can confirm the alarm, drive the robot around, politely ask occupants to evacuate, and ensure that the facility has been vacated.
- 3. Concierge:The Cobalt Security Service is focused on building a friendly, welcoming work environment during nights, holidays, and weekends. When the robot detects a person, our friendly Specialist can use two-way video to greet employees, request badge credentials, ensure guests check in, etc.In essence, the Specialist is there to help at a moment’s notice—just as though they were sitting there in the office. This helps create a warm and approachable setting so employees feel safe during after-hours operations.
- 4. Analysis: Specialists provide critical feedback across all aspects of the system. Akin to the famous Toyota Production System, Specialists work closely alongside engineers to prioritize new features, suggest improvements to software interfaces, modify “post orders” for each customer, update maps and patrols, and enhance client reporting capabilities. Specialists also serve a key role in helping the robots learn over time. Robots will occasionally ask Specialists for help—e.g., “Does this photo really contain a person?” Through repeated interactions, the robots build up special machine learning models that are tuned for each customer, each customer site, and each location within a site. These models are crucial for robust operation, and simultaneously decrease the burden on Specialists over time.
Where do we find Specialists?
Robot Specialists are an entirely new type of job being created by the robotics revolution. Fundamentally, we look for smart and empathetic people with some experience in a customer-facing position in the service industry. Our current Specialists hail from a number of backgrounds: hospitality, food services, and even applied mathematics. None of our specialists had previous robotics experience, but they all have a passion for technology and are excited about the potential for profound impact.
See our lead Specialist, Shiloh Nordby, describe his role.
Interested in becoming a Cobalt Specialist? Join our team by emailing email@example.com with your resume and contact information!