Security robot makes public debut at Bridgeport tech firm

By Kevin Zimmerman

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The robotic revolution took another step forward in Bridgeport on Oct. 17, when the Sharp Intellos Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle made its rounds at A+ Technology & Security Solutions.

The multi-terrain vehicle took its first, figurative public bow by making a preprogrammed loop around A+’s yard at 1027 Fairfield Ave., deploying six cameras — which can provide both video and snapshots — to allow a 360-degree view that can be viewed from a command center. Other features include a siren, flashing lights, a deployable arm that can stretch to a height of about six feet, and a thermal imaging camera for nighttime use.

Gregg Preuss, a regional sales engineer for Sharp Robotics Business Development, demonstrated how the Intellos also can be easily operated via a joystick-styled remote control, taking it off its programmed circuit to find the quickest path to a perceived trouble spot, such as a hole in a fence or the presence of an unexpected device or person. Thanks to its rear omni wheels — made with small discs around the circumference which are perpendicular to the turning direction — it can turn within a much tighter radius than can a car.

From the command center, Preuss drove the Intellos up to the executives, engaged the siren and lights, and intoned: “You have entered a secure area. The police will be called.”

The message seemed clear enough: this is a robot not to be messed with.

“One of its primary functions is as a deterrent,” said David Lewis, associate vice president of Sharp Robotics. “It can capture critical information about who is coming onto the property, and can see and cover more territory than a human on patrol.”

“This is something that really pushes the boundaries in security,” said Jorge Garcia, director of New England operations at A+. “The potential is amazing. In Connecticut alone we’re looking at $20-40 million in sales, just to start.”

The Intellos has a maximum speed of about 3 ½ miles per hour and is equipped with sensors to avoid collisions with unexpected objects, noted Lewis. Powered by two rechargeable ion batteries with a life of about eight hours, it produces no emissions.

A+ Technology, the Bayshore, N.Y.-based firm that opened its Bridgeport site in July, is the first authorized dealer and integrator of the Sharp robot.

“David Antar is a genius,” Lewis said of A+’s president, also in attendance at the demo. “His company is clearly on the leading edge of security technology. It takes a visionary to see the next generation of security.”

“We got involved with Sharp about three years ago when they first explained their vision for this,” Antar said. “Not only is this impressive from a security standpoint, but the fact that it can detect levels of radiation and other bio medical conditions makes it ideal for companies with outdoor properties — utilities, pharmaceuticals, data centers, airports, rail yards and government facilities — without putting human lives at risk. This is a security solution that doesn’t put someone in harm’s way.”

Antar also noted that the Intellos can be used as an anchoring device for a tethered drone flying at up to 100 feet for further surveilling capabilities. Such activity is more efficient by utilizing an autonomous vehicle, “since the drone can never fly out of control,” he said.

Though declining to give a dollar figure for the cost of the Intellos, Lewis said it would be roughly the same as or less than the price of hiring a security guard. According to jobs resource firm Recruiter.com, the national average salary range for a security guard is between $16,000 to 24,000 per year, depending on education and experience.

Though operational in most weather, Lewis said that in the case of areas with significant winter snowfall such as Connecticut, more than two or three inches of snow would need to be cleared for the Intellos to operate properly.

The Intellos and the A+ deal were first unveiled during a Sharp press conference at the 62nd Annual Seminar and Exhibits of ASIS International 2016 in Orlando on Sept. 12. Present was Warren Bamford, vice president of global security at National Grid, the Waltham, Mass.-based utility that delivers electricity and natural gas to some 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Bamford said he was evaluating the robot based on A+’s recommendation.

“The safety and security of our employees and the public is our number one priority,” Bamford said. “The multi-terrain robot offered by A+ Technology is a new and innovative technology that any organization focused on security should explore.”

Antar said that several customers have already been making inquiries and customer trials and demos are available. Shipments to customers will begin in January, he said, each with a three-year service and maintenance agreement.

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