We had the privilege of interviewing Cliff Quiroga, Vice President of Sharp Robotics Business Development, and put our questions to him, here is what he had to say:
Tell us a little bit about Sharp INTELLOS Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV).
The Sharp INTELLIOS A-UGV is an outdoor, ruggedised perimeter patrol mobile sensor platform for security, surveillance and maintenance patrol. It can stand as a tireless sentry or traverse without human interaction large expanses of property to oversee physical assets, people and infrastructure. Sites with inherent risks and safety concerns, such as hazardous materials storage, are ideal because they typically have exterior fencing, a clear patrol path and low, pedestrian (or vehicle) traffic. Introduced to the United States’ marketplace in September 2016, Sharp’s autonomous robotic system fully integrates with other technologies and augments a skilled guard force to provide comprehensive, situational awareness.
You were recently awarded New Product of the Year. How does it feel to be recognised by the security industry and what is the future of robotics and autonomous systems in this field?
In its first year, the Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV has been honoured with four industry awards. Sharp prioritised the “voice of customer” insights security professionals offered to shape the platform, payload and applications. By truly listening to their needs and hopes for the product, we brought to market what the industry wants. The awards are a validation of that.
Sharp felt a strong responsibility to bring awareness about robotics and autonomous systems into the security realm. We brought together technology partners and industry experts Sharp had met during the development cycle to create a forum, known as Robolliance, which works in a unified way to foster understanding and facilitate adoption of robotics for land, sea and air security. The companies and individuals, who comprise the sponsorship of Robolliance, have unique perspectives to share that are not sugar-coated, but instead thought-provoking and collaborative. Working cooperatively in an ecosystem, Robolliance sponsors educate the marketplace to overcome obstacles, identify applications, shop wisely and automate facets of security operations for higher levels of productivity, performance and profitability. Sharp Electronics is the founding sponsor of Roboalliance.
What is the outlook for the Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV in the world market, and what are you doing to maintain or increase your market share?
As with many emerging technologies, security robotics is being led by Fortune 500 companies. The same holds true for the Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV. Big Business by nature has a global reach, so we expect to expand our market, beyond its introduction into the United States, based on the demand of our customers. They will redefine what we deem “right fit” properties, applications and missions to solve their unique counter-measure challenges worldwide. Realistically, this will take time, yet we are already seeing indications and requirements with our current customer engagement. Frankly, there are very few competitors in our direct market space of outdoor security and safety. Knowing our product quality, history of service, voice of the customer focus, and consistent global fulfillment will continue to differentiate us and allow us to keep our leading position.
What other fields do you see Sharp INTELLOS entering?
The natural next step is looking at an indoor solution. We are exploring various specialised and vertical market applications based on our mobile platform.
What would you say to those who say that this will take away jobs from the human labour force?
Automation has transformed profitability and productivity for businesses. Starting with assembly line production and warehouse stock fulfilment, automation has moved into such business functions as accounting, marketing, recruiting and ordering. Those same Fortune 500 companies I mentioned earlier are going so far as to appoint automation task forces to carry the success from these functions into other operational areas of their business. Robots thrive on many tasks associated with security, like perimeter patrol, because they are routine, redundant and mundane. This makes security the next business function ripe for automation. Employers will continue to add automation technologies, like robots, to become more competitive and create better quality offerings. Job titles, needed skills and responsibilities will in turn change, offering up opportunities not yet known because we are relinquishing the most arduous and sometimes physically demanding/dangerous tasks to automation.
With your parent company and powerhouse that is Sharp, you have an edge over new entrants into the market. What advice do you have to those entering the market?
Quality of product and service is key. A lot of companies are able to prepare good demonstrations of their robotic technology, but to make a quality product takes a lot of time and effort. Those entering the market need to understand that buyers are becoming devoted students of this technology and as they become more educated will be more discerning. You cannot concentrate solely on the product, but must address fulfilment, service and development for the consumer to grow with you. Also, don’t expand too quickly. Focus on solving a customer problem completely and then move on to expand that segment. This is a challenge since there are many customers out there looking to improve their productivity and bottom line with automation and robotics. Keeping focus will be difficult, but a fractured approach, even for large companies, will dilute your effort and slow progress.
Robotics News Interview 07 October 2017