Multiple companies around the world now offer robotic security guards for property and event surveillance, but Ascento appears to be only one, at least currently, to sell mechanical patrollers boasting eyebrows. On September 12, the Swiss-based startup announced the launch of its latest autonomous outdoor security robot, the Ascento Guard, which puts a cartoon-esque spin on security enforcement.
[Related: Meet Garmi, a robot nurse and companion for Germany’s elderly population.]
The robot’s central chassis includes a pair of circular “eye” stand-ins that blink, along with rectangular, orange hazard lights positioned as eyebrows. When charging, for example, an Ascento Guard’s eyes are “closed” to mimic sleeping, but open as they engage in patrol responsibilities. But perhaps the most unique design choice is its agile “wheel-leg” setup that seemingly allows for more precise movements across a variety of terrains. Showcase footage accompanying the announcement highlights the robot’s various features for patrolling “large, outdoor, private properties.” Per the company’s announcement, it already counts manufacturing facilities, data centers, pharmaceutical production centers, and warehouses as clients.
According to Ascento co-founder and CEO, Alessandro Morra, the global security industry currently faces a staff turnover rate as high as 47 percent each year. “Labor shortages mean a lack of qualified personnel available to do the work which involves long shifts, during anti-social hours or in bad weather,” Morra said via the company’s September 12 announcement. “The traditional approach is to use either people or fixed installed cameras… The Ascento Guard provides the best of both worlds.”
Each Ascento Guard reportedly only requires a few hours’ worth of setup time before becoming virtually autonomous via programmable patrol schedules. During its working hours, the all-weather robots are equipped to survey perimeters at a walking speed of approximately 2.8 mph, as well as monitor for fires or break-ins via thermal and infrared cameras. On-board speakers and microphones also allow for end-to-end encrypted two-way communications, while its video cameras can “control parking lots,” per Ascento’s announcement—video footage shows an Ascento Guard scanning car license plates, for example.
While robot security guards are nothing new by now, the Ascento Guard’s decidedly anthropomorphic design typically saved for elderly care and assistance, is certainly a new way to combat potential public skepticism, not to mention labor and privacy concerns espoused by experts for similar automation creations. Ascento’s reveal follows a new funding round backed by a host of industry heavyweights including the European Space Agency incubator, ESA BIC, and Tim Kentley-Klay, founder of the autonomous taxi company, Zoox.