Robot security guard on patrol


An autonomous robot developed by ETH Zurich researchers will soon replace outdoor security patrols thanks to AI and state-of-the-art technology.

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Out patrolling in the snow, rain and on lonely nights, security guards contribute to the safety of society, often working in difficult conditions. This job profile is set to change fundamentally in the not-too-distant future, however. ETH Zurich researchers have developed Ascento, a two-wheeled robot, that can perform routine outdoor security patrols on any terrain.

Protecting outdoor premises with Swiss federal railways

As part of a pilot project, the well-known security company Securitas has been testing the robots for over six months with the Swiss federal railways (SBB) on one of their premises. According to the Zurich-based start-up, the Ascento robot can climb stairs, detect people and communicate with security personnel to respond quickly if there is any unusual activity in the surveillance area.

We chose the security market because this is where it’s really difficult to find people nowadays; they have to work long hours and in all weather conditions.

Alessandro Morra, Team Lead Ascento and former ETH robotics student

From a student's idea to reality

The Ascento surveillance robot has been under development by ETH Zurich researchers since 2017. It started as a focus project during the Bachelor’s programme. Thanks to its innovative two-wheeled design and all-terrain tyres, the latest version of Ascento is capable of going everywhere a human can, mastering flat terrain, obstacles and even one or two steps with ease.

Thermal cameras for greater security

The robot, equipped with 360-degree thermal cameras can be deployed at any time of the day or night and in all weather conditions. It will be used to assist security services guarding large properties. Its 'head' contains a computer, battery, sensors and software that enables it to generate reports and communicate via live feed with an operator in a control centre. It also has thermal imaging to detect people and vehicles and a camera to take pictures of the surroundings.

According to a press release, the start-up was officially founded in February 2023 and is currently ramping up production of its security robot to deliver the security solution to interested customers by the end of this year.

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