Houston Methodist Hospital has added two new members to its security team — a pair of robots that patrol the halls on wheels.
Built by surveillance systems firm, Knightscope, the robots are just over 4 feet tall and are dubbed Watson and Holmes.
“If you watch Star Wars, it kind of looks like R2D2,” said Hadji Sarr, the hospital’s director of public safety.
The machines are fitted with 360-degree cameras, an alarm button, and a two-way communication system that allows users to communicate with security officials.
“If you’re in distress or need help, you can call a button on the robot and it will come straight to our central dispatch,” said Sarr.
While the robots don’t replace human personnel, Sarr said they help provide extra security coverage around the hospital.
“Houston Methodist is like a city within a city. While we have officers, it’s never enough to have eyes everywhere — just like we have over 1,500 cameras, those cameras will never be enough because we don’t have them everywhere,” he said. “Where the robots come into play will be to add to those eyes where officers cannot make it. Our dispatchers are able to see what the robots are seeing.”
The robots can also broadcast pre-recorded public safety reminders or live messages in case of an emergency.
But so far, Saar says, visitors have mostly been interested in taking selfies with the robots.
“It’s crazy how many people, I think almost everyone comes and sits and takes selfies with robots,” he said.
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