According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, some schools in the United States are turning to robots to enhance campus security and potentially confront intruders. Among these schools is Santa Fe High School in New Mexico, which has become one of the first schools to test an autonomous robot that utilizes artificial intelligence to learn the campus’ routes and typical hours of activity. The school initiated a 60-day pilot program in June to evaluate the effectiveness of this new security measure.
The motivation behind implementing robots as part of school security measures stems from the increasing concern over mass shootings that have occurred on campuses across the country. Recent incidents, such as the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers lost their lives, have highlighted the urgent need for improved security measures. From January to April of this year alone, there were approximately 146 mass shootings in the United States, surpassing the number of incidents in the same period over the past four years, as reported by the Gun Violence Archive.
However, the question of how to address this issue has become a point of contention in the political arena. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has called for more armed security personnel at schools while rejecting proposals for stricter gun control laws. In contrast, the Biden Administration signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June, which allocates millions of dollars to mental health services and school security.
The robot currently being tested at Santa Fe High School was developed by Team 1st Technologies, an Albuquerque-based robotics company. Weighing 400 pounds and equipped with four wheels, the robot can provide 360-degree video footage with its seven cameras. It has a battery life of 20 hours and requires four hours to charge at a self-charging station. This robot, developed by Team 1st, has the capability to alert the security team in the event of an active shooter situation and can move towards the suspect to send video footage to the authorities.
Although the robot is not armed, it can confront intruders through its speaker system, allowing a remote security team to communicate with them. Mario Salbidrez, the executive director of safety and security at Santa Fe Public Schools, stated that the robot will complement the existing security system already in place in the district. This will assist in ensuring continuous surveillance and avoiding gaps that may occur due to human limitations, such as breaks and lunches taken by staff members.
Another school district planning to deploy robots is the Wyandotte Public Schools district in Oklahoma. Superintendent Brad Wade confirmed that the district intends to utilize four robots from Stokes Robotics, a company that specializes in quadruped robots. The primary purpose of implementing these robots is to monitor school entrances, but the district may also consider robots that can directly confront intruders.
Robert Stokes, the President of Stokes Robotics, revealed that they are working with multiple school districts to introduce robots in the classroom. While the main focus is on teaching students about coding, the robots can also take more proactive measures such as pointing a laser beam or using a flashlight to disarm suspects.
As schools continue to grapple with the challenge of securing their campuses, robots offer a potential solution to enhance security measures. By utilizing cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence, these robots have the capacity to assist human security personnel in surveillance and intervention, ultimately ensuring a safer school environment for students and staff members.