Are Robotics And Drones The Future Of Perimeter Security?

According to Security Magazine, more than 2,000 first-responder agencies across the US currently use drones and robotics in their everyday operations. While drones—also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)and robotic equipment can provide great benefits for government agencies, the commercial security sector has yet to adopt drones and robotics for widespread use. 

There’s no doubt that drones and robotics hold great potential for businesses looking to expand their aerial surveillance capabilities. But are they the future of perimeter security? And should your organization adopt a robotics strategy?

Advantages to using drones for security

There are undeniable security benefits to drones and robotics, including: 

  • Improved coverage areas. For companies spread across large lots or vast outdoor spaces, drones can provide visuals in remote areas where stationary cameras might not be able to reach. These aerial devices can easily get to hard-to-reach locations and provide security agents quick visual access to inaccessible areas, hidden nooks, or tricky blind spots.
  • Flexibility. Drones and robotics can perform a wide range of security functions. A UAV can provide 360-visuals of a location from above, track a suspect on the run, monitor trespassers, and investigate triggered alarms. And a patrol robot can continuously monitor a vast space without requiring rest or breaks like a human security agent. 
  • Fast response time. Drones are fast, and unhindered by physical barriers on the ground. In many situations they can quickly fly to investigate an incident over a large area and provide valuable visual assistance to on-site staff.
  • Increased safety for on-site responders. A drone can reach and hover over areas that may be dangerous or hard for humans to access like a gas leak, chemical spill, or active shooter situation. In these dangerous scenarios, on-site staff and first responders could rely on drones to provide a valuable picture of the situation. And a robotic guard may be able to access similarly dangerous situations on the ground and provide visuals to on-site staff without putting a human at risk. 
  • Tamper resistant. When drones are in the air, they’re out of reach. They can’t be tampered with or dismantled and are less likely to go missing. 

Drawbacks of drone and robotic security

With the great promise of drones and robotics come potential drawbacks. Their widespread use may be held back by:

  • Limited flight time. Most commercial drones are still battery operated and have an average flight time of 20 to 40 minutes. For organizations looking for ongoing perimeter security, the current generation of drones may not be a good option.   
  • Weather. Bad weather can hinder a drone’s ability to fly and capture clear images, so drones aren’t effective during rain, snow, or stormy conditions. Likewise, a robotic device would need to be weatherproof to patrol an outdoor area. 
  • Regulatory concerns. Drones and robotics are subject to extremely specific regulations around weight, operator training, operating conditions, and privacy concerns. This can make drones difficult, expensive, or even illegal to deploy in certain situations. 

Taking flight—considerations for a drone or robotics program

If you think drones or robotics might be a good addition to your company’s security toolkit, you’ll need a solid plan for moving forward. 

  • Think hard about your strategy. How, specifically, do you plan to use drones or robotics as a surveillance tool? What areas of your business will they cover, and how will they work in collaboration with your existing security structure to provide advanced protection? Are you certain they will strengthen your security strategy, or are you just dazzled by their theoretical potential? Is there a more traditional security tool that would accomplish your goal with less effort? 
  • Identify a program operations manager. Because of the complex operation requirements and regulatory environment, you’ll need someone in your organization to oversee your drone program. This person will be responsible for keeping your records and documentation up to date—ensuring that pilots have proper training and follow all rules—and keeping track of regulations and advancements in technology as they evolve. 
  • Hire or train certified drone pilots. Anyone who operates a drone or robotic device in your organization will need to be certified; if an uncertified pilot is caught operating a UAV, you risk heavy fines. Identifying potential operators and ensuring they’re properly trained and certified ensures you get maximum safety benefits while decreasing your liability. 
  • Commit to ongoing training and financial investment. Anyone involved in your robotics program will need ongoing training, whether it’s the program manager, site manager, or drone operators. Drone and robotics technology, usage, and regulations are evolving at a rapid pace. There’s no point in implementing a complex program if your organization is not fully committed to keeping up with the latest trends and technologies in the field. 

Looking to the future

Whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge into drones and robotics, it’s essential to work with a trusted partner who can assess your specific needs and help you design a security strategy that works best to protect your business. Make sure to do your research and go with a reputable provider that knows the ins and outs of the technology, regulatory requirements, and your business.

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