The rise of security robots: a new dawn

Moderna - security robots - DroneDogs

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Paul Bouffard, Senior Director, Physical and Technical Security at Moderna tells SJA about the deployment of security robots at the biopharmaceutical company.

Can you tell me about yourself and your role at Moderna? 

My name is Paul Bouffard and I’m a seasoned security professional. My role here at Moderna is as Senior Director of Physical and Technical Security, which is a global role and covers all locations worldwide.

I’ve been in this business for a while, mostly in the biotech industry, but right now I’m helping to shape, build and improve Moderna’s security posture – including our new security robot project.

Moderna has recently deployed security robots named Spike and Vax at its campus. What was the reasoning behind this?

This is a fairly new project for Moderna. I was aware that these robotic drones and this technology were available within the security industry; Boston Dynamics are the manufacturers of the Spot robot and Asylon Robotics has developed additional hardware, software and a 24/7 intelligence center for operating the security robots.

When looking at our overall security strategy, I considered how to leverage and integrate certain technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to become more efficient in what we do.

The security robot can use AI to identify people and vehicles, autonomously avoid obstacles, sense the environment around it and complete pre-programmed alarm response missions through an intelligent software system.

Another crucial aspect was to invest in a platform that would allow us to use less manpower and manual resource.

This helps to lower the cost of operations as well as to become more effective.

Leveraging highly effective and efficient hardware/software has not only resulted in cost savings but also opened avenues for reinvestment back into the workforce or new technologies.

This helps ensure a harmonious blend of quality human expertise and technological prowess.

That’s why we chose to use DroneDogs – and are also currently looking at aerial drones now – as these can complement the rest of our security ecosystem which includes CCTV and surveillance technology, analytics and of course, physical patrols.

This combination really helps to provide a better way to monitor the site.

Once the idea of the DroneDogs was presented to the stakeholders in the rest of the organization, it was well received; this technology supports our strategic mission and objectives by using AI and machine learning to improve our corporate activities.

How did you research which drones you wanted?

We knew that Boston Dynamics manufactured this technology, so it was about making an introduction to them and asking them to tell us about the security robots, from the very start to their implementation.

They connected us to Asylon Robotics, which has provided a full turnkey service to operationalize the robots to match our security objectives.

An important question to ask was about the provisions available to us throughout the whole process, such as technical and operational support.

Asylon has been a strategic partner with us all the way through and gives us regular statistical dashboard reports on the performance and effectiveness of the DroneDogs.

This helps us to demonstrate the value added to Moderna as a whole.

We need to work with the key players here within the company so that they can understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.

Then there’s also a reason to educate our customers, so they can learn about the value and benefits this will bring to us.

Some people have hesitations about robotic dogs and AI, as they are concerned about what we record and where this data is stored.

However, allowing them to understand where this information goes and that these systems are here as safety tools can help in the acceptance of these technologies. 

How will the security robots work?

Using these robotics, you have a standardized approach.

Through procedural control, when the robotic dogs are out and patrolling around buildings or the campus perimeter, they can have a higher level of reliability and focus than a manual patrol.

In addition to that, the global security operations center (GSOC) that is monitoring the security robots – as a third party – adds another layer of protection as we collaborate to utilize the drone patrols on the site and optimize our security.

Plus, in the event of a dangerous situation that we need to respond to, we can send a robot out to safely investigate instead of putting one of our employees in potential harm’s way.

Robots are dispensable, humans are not.

How will the DroneDogs enhance the rest of your security ecosystem?

The security robots help to support the rest of our infrastructure such as surveillance and physical patrols, but there are also other aspects that these DroneDogs will aid such as access control, analytics and behavioral detection and perimeter protection measures.

Some of the other security systems we utilize include gate controls, license plate recognition (LPR), anti-tailgating detection for vehicles and more, some of which help to refine employee and visitor experience at the same time as enhancing security.

When you bring all these technologies together, including the security robots, you have a more active and intelligent way of monitoring and protecting your site.

How will this strategy potentially evolve in the future?

This is just the beginning in my opinion. I think the next phase is to become more autonomous, as opposed to having a third party operate the security robots.

We need to think about how we can integrate the drone technology within our own video platform and the rest of the company’s security systems so that we have one platform and one integrated approach.

How do you see the industry using these kinds of technologies in the future?

It’s great to see many industries embrace AI and machine learning; I think it’s only going to elevate the security industry and what we can do.

Using these kinds of technologies will help to improve operational efficiencies and put us on the road to continuous integration.

This article on executive protection was originally published in the January edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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