Robots Provide Security Assistance at Pima Community College

On the campuses of Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., a new security force has been out on patrol, learning the ropes before students return to campus full time. An egg-shaped security robot on wheels has been placed into service to act as a mobile security camera, emergency call box, first-alarm-raiser, and more.

“He’ll be able to go through the parking lots, and we can program different license plates that he can look for, and he’ll let us know, ‘Hey, this car is in the parking lot,’” said Lt. Jonathan Haywood. “And he also just acts as a deterrent. We have a lot of foot traffic here, especially at this campus. And if someone doesn’t need to be here and they see the robot running around, it may make them think twice about being here without a real reason.”

The robot is programmed so that its route covers all the necessary areas of campus. It also features a button that students or staff can press to connect them with emergency dispatch. So far, though, more passersby have approached it out of curiosity or to snap a selfie.

“It’s kind of like we’re living in a modern era though, with technology, so that’s why it’s kind of normal to me,” said student Elizabeth Barrios.

“The robot patrols our campus 24/7/365,” said Pima Community College Police Department Commander Ricardo Gutierrez. “It could alert us to the person being on campus after hours … The robot has the capabilities of detecting a person (not actual facial recognition), and it also has the ability to read license plates in case we wanted it to read a license plate for us.”

It costs about $80,000 annually to lease the robot, said a spokesperson from the college.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at [email protected]

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