Protecting High-Risk Environments: The Role of Video Surveillance in Robotic Deployments To Hazardous Sites

Posted on 02/06/2024 by MilesOliver in Industry

Today’s technology has gone a long way in protecting humans at hazardous work sites. Robots can take on these formidable jobs, protecting people from job site dangers. It also safeguards companies by reducing liability.  

But, like any other technology, robots have flaws. Advanced surveillance technologies can be used to ensure that robotic deployments are working effectively at high-risk locations and situations.

Robotic systems that are outfitted with surveillance tools can help optimize operations. Outsourcing the most dangerous tasks to these robots protects human workers.

Robotic and Human Collaborations at Hazardous Sites

The rise of robotics in the workplace has created a professional relationship between robots and humans. This is not about replacing human capital. Instead, robots help people work more efficiently and productively. Human-robot collaboration has grown across numerous industries, from healthcare, where 5G capabilities enable robots to perform precision surgeries, to agriculture, where robots programmed with artificial intelligence (AI) monitor fields to ensure the crops are getting proper hydration and nutrients.

But the place where this partnership really shines is in preventing safety issues. With the help of cloud-based video surveillance to enhance security, robots can be sent to hazardous sites instead of humans thanks to its support of remote access operations.  Driven by AI that processes and analyzes large amounts of data acquired through surveillance, these systems can detect and identify objects, perform facial recognition, and uncover threats or problems in a site, structure, or system. 

Cloud-based surveillance also allows workers to record these interactions which reduces limitations on difficult-to-access work sites that pose dangers, like underway structures or high-rise buildings. Playback can then be viewed at a later time to optimize the system. Cloud-based surveillance robotic systems provide a cost-effective system that can keep an eye on your facilities, preventing unauthorized access, theft, and other security issues.

There are numerous ways to improve workplace safety with robotics. Robots can be sent into an industrialized space and use various detection and scanning capabilities (i.e., light, SONAR, etc.) to look for unstable structures and flooring as well as loose debris and other such hazards. Remote-controlled robots fitted with usable arms and cameras can locate and safely extricate toxic items, such as radioactive waste, explosive items, and high-temperature products.

They can also work in super-confined spaces that require inspection, which are too small or dangerous for humans. For example, General Electric contracted Sarcos Robotics to supply robots for its extraction system ducts, located in a confined space at high altitudes. Robotic systems completed the inspection in one and a half days, as opposed to one and a half weeks by humans. This demonstrates that robots can significantly save companies time and likely money while protecting humans from dangers.

Another highly hazardous area for humans is high-voltage equipment. National Grid, a Canadian utility company, deployed robots to perform inspections for a converter station that is five stories high and the size of a football field. The robot required specialized equipment, including a high-resolution 30X optical zoom camera with infrared imaging, allowing technicians to stay away from 345,000 to 450,000-volt electric fields. The use of robotics also meant the company no longer has to shut down equipment to perform inspections. 

These are the more deadly and volatile examples. However, robots can also improve safety conditions at any facility, like manufacturing warehouses. 

Robots for Accident Prevention in Warehouses

Helping humans perform everyday functions that pose a risk is a popular use for robots, especially in the manufacturing industry. For example, robots can do the heavy lifting that humans cannot. This allows businesses to create a safer working environment by reducing common hazards in warehouses and distribution centers while optimizing fulfillment rates. Workers are safer, which reduces liability and saves money.

We talked about human-robot collaborations, but some robots are programmed to work alongside people, bearing the name “co-bots.” Co-bots can be programmed to step in and help new warehouse workers prepare for their first day on the job site. New employees must understand how to work alongside heavy machinery and robotic devices using the safety protocols they were trained on. Workers should do their part by wearing proper gear, such as safety goggles and steel-toe boots, and taking all possible safety precautions. This includes letting robots handle unsafe tasks, like reaching heavy items that are high up. 

It’s critical to remember that while robots can keep humans safe, working with them may pose dangers. Some emerging technologies help automate warehouses with co-bots, the next generation of manufacturing. Co-bots can be equipped with technologies that keep the humans around them safe, such as:

  • Limiting power and force to what humans can withstand. For example, they cease activity if they encounter an obstacle.
  • Sensitive to proximity to human body parts, such as hands. This allows the cobot to be aware of the presence of humans.
  • Speed monitoring capabilities. This allows robots to slow down when humans approach.
  • Some co-bots are equipped with hand-guiding, a sensitive device at the end of their arms. They use this to learn how to hold items and use them safely.

Another industry benefiting from the use of AI-capable robots is construction. 

How Surveillance Minimizes Construction Site Safety Hazards

Robots bring incredible benefits to construction, especially in terms of preventing hazards. Construction projects often have tight deadlines and budgets. Robots eliminate those concerns by bringing speed and precision to repetitive tasks while minimizing hazards. 

For example, robots can step in to safely perform a task, like a shotcrete application, which is known to cause physical injuries. Robots can also work on projects situated at high or underwater elevations, including construction sites for high-rise buildings or bridges. They can perform tasks ranging from construction to structural inspections, safely employing surveillance tools to perform these functions. Not only does this help construction firms meet budgets and deadlines, but it can also save the company money by reducing mistakes and accidents.

Video surveillance paired with robotic technology provides a workflow that helps companies bring safety to hazardous worksites. While human collaboration is necessary, the most dangerous tasks can be performed by AI-powered robots. From manufacturing to construction, almost all industries with hazardous risks can benefit from these applications, saving time, money, and lives. 


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