In response to the increasing incidents of shootings in schools, educational institutions in the United States are exploring innovative security measures. A recent Wall Street Journal report revealed that a school in New Mexico has initiated a pilot program, employing an AI-powered security guard to patrol their campus round the clock.
Santa Fe High School in New Mexico has deployed a robot as part of their security strategy. The autonomous machine is currently in the training phase, familiarizing itself with the school’s daily routines in order to identify any individuals present on the campus outside of regular hours or displaying aggressive behavior. Should an active shooter or any other threat emerge, the robot promptly alerts the security team and proceeds towards the intruder, transmitting live video footage to assist law enforcement officers in determining an appropriate response.
Equipped with seven cameras and designed to withstand various weather conditions, the robot is currently unarmed as the school opted to disable its weapon detection features during the pilot test. However, it can engage with hostile individuals and enable security personnel to communicate with them using the robot’s communication system. Mario Salbidrez, Santa Fe Public School’s executive director of safety and security, stated that the school is contemplating activating the robot’s weapons feature in the future.
Regarding data collection, the school maintains ownership of the video footage and possesses the final authority to decide whether or not to retain it. In critical situations, the robot is programmed to take more assertive actions, such as pointing a laser beam at the suspect’s chest and instructing them to drop their weapons.
Fortunately, the robot’s operations thus far have mainly involved identifying new workers entering the school construction site and individuals attempting to access locked doors. Video footage captured by the robot depicts faculty members waving to the cameras and students making peace signs, indicating that its presence has not noticeably disturbed the campus environment.
This development follows an earlier report from Switzerland, where a robotics start-up named Ascento had successfully deployed a patrol bot developed by ETH Zurich. This agile and efficient machine demonstrated potential in replacing human security guards for Swiss security firm Securitas AG.
As schools strive to ensure the safety of students and staff, the utilization of AI technology in security measures offers a promising solution. The pilot program at Santa Fe High School may pave the way for future implementation of AI security guards across educational institutions, helping to create safer environments for learning and growth.