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Cobalt Robots. Your new smart security guard

Originally published by Stephanie Palazzolo

Oct 7, 2022, 12:00 AM for the BUSINESSINSIDER

 

Cobalt is a robotics startup that creates 5-foot-1 security robots that patrol offices and report any observed anomalies. The robots can replace human security guards and carry out the rote tasks of human guards at lower costs. These robots have over 60 sensors, including thermal cameras, temperature, and humidity sensors, and badge readers. The robots integrate into a company's security network, allowing them to respond automatically to triggered alarms. Using their knowledge of past security incidents, the robots can determine whether a situation needs to be escalated. Companies are finding creative ways to use their robots beyond security, and they have used the robots to check employees' temperature for fever, monitor carbon monoxide levels, crowd control during office evacuations, and many more.


Travis Deyle and Erik Schluntz founded the startup in 2016. After interviewing multiple security teams, they learned that these teams wished they had robots to complete the rote tasks of human guards. With this knowledge, the cofounders realized that robots could fulfill the observing and reporting duties of security guards at lower costs. Despite surveillance concerns, security teams rave about the robots' ability to protect employees.


According to Mike LeBlanc, Cobalt's president and chief operating officer, the company's value proposition became clearer during the pandemic since the robots could replace unwieldy security teams that were no longer necessary in empty offices. In large workplaces, robots were able to more efficiently patrol multiple floors and respond faster to alarms. In smaller offices that required only a single guard, robots could take over all security tasks, from managing visitors to escorting employees to their cars late at night.




Many Cobalt customers are finding creative ways to use their robots beyond security. They have used the robots to check employees' temperature for fever, monitor carbon monoxide levels, crowd control during office evacuations, and many more. Ralph Parks, the senior safety and security manager at the mobility solutions company Woven Planet, told Insider that he had standing weekly meetings with the Cobalt team to brainstorm use cases for the robots.

While security teams have embraced Cobalt's robots, they say they've encountered employee concerns around surveillance and privacy. LeBlanc told Insider that Cobalt's robots were designed with these fears in mind. The robots look like a "piece of high-end office furniture" to match the "frictionless environment" of modern-day tech companies and help them blend into the background. Education around the robots' purpose is the key to gaining acceptance from employees.


In conclusion, Cobalt's robots offer a new level of security to workplaces. They are efficient, cost-effective, and can perform a range of functions beyond security. The robots were designed to address employee concerns around surveillance and privacy, and education around their purpose is the key to gaining acceptance from employees.

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