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The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler

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The Demon Tattler

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A.I. Security Robot Is Here to Stay

A.I.+Security+Robot+Is+Here+to+Stay

The Santa Fe Public School Board voted in December to extend the security robot’s deployment at Santa Fe High for the remainder of the school year at a cost of $5,900 per month, after a three-month free trial that ended in September.

The agreement will be on a month-to-month basis, according to the director of robot sales at Team 1st Technologies, the Albuquerque-based company that developed the robot in collaboration with SMP Robotics.

Since Santa Fe High became the first school in North America to deploy an A.I. enabled security robot, the autonomous member of the security team has generated quite a buzz.

Student opinions about the robot’s usefulness, unofficially named “Miss Holladay,” are mixed.

Senior Casey Forester described the robot’s presence on campus as “ominous.” Casey added that although nearly everybody is aware of the robot, “Very few people know what it is capable of and how it serves the safety of the school.”

Student Charlie Smith called the robot one of the “most pointless things this school has ever done.” He asked, “What is the robot going to do if a school shooter comes on campus?”

So what can the robot actually do?

According to Team 1st Technologies, the robot is fully autonomous, meaning that no human intervention or instruction is needed for it to carry out its objectives. According to the company’s website, the robot has thermal vision, high-sensitivity listening devices, and 360-degree video.

The features that differentiate the robot from a mere rolling 5′10″ 400-pound security camera are its threat recognition capabilities. Its artificial intelligence code allows it to adapt to its surroundings, recognize patterns, and adjust its approach without any human input.

The robot can also have facial recognition technology and weapons detection capabilities, but neither have been activated in Santa Fe High’s model. SFPS Executive Director of School Security Mario Salbidrez said that they will consider activating these features later on, but for now the base package suffices.

The robot’s video footage and data is wired to a server located in the Student Services building, where it is kept for review and analysis if needed. It also transmits a live feed to several monitors that are surveilled at different times by members of the school’s safety team, as well as by district security personnel who are evaluating the robot’s performance.

The robot really earns its “pay” after hours, when safety aides are not present on campus.

Salbidrez recalls a few instances in which the robot has deterred trespassers. “People have been leaving right away [once they see the robot],” he said. “They don’t know how scalable the robot is at this time, so they kind of freak out and they leave.” Salbidrez cites an example of a homeless man exiting the premises after seeing the robot on an early-morning stroll across campus.

However, Victor Quintana, Santa Fe High’s lead safety aide, said that the robot’s impact on his job is negligible. “For the robot to be useful to me,” he said, “it would need to have facial recognition.”

Facial recognition would allow the safety aides to identify suspended students or uninvited visitors on campus. Victor did note, however, that the robot covers territory on the southeast side of campus that one of his safety aides would otherwise have to patrol.

As of December, no one has attempted to vandalize or otherwise damage the robot, which was a concern at the beginning of the year, according to Victor. He adds that the robot is just one more measure in the school’s commitment to security. For the first time in years, he reports, the safety aide unit is fully staffed.

Santa Fe High received national media attention during the summer when the robot first appeared on campus, most notably in the Wall Street Journal. KRQE also did a feature on the robot this summer, which can be viewed at this link.

According to Salbidrez, district administration is considering deployment of similar autonomous security devices at other schools, perhaps a “twin brother” at Capital High School.

Team 1st recently filmed a promotional documentary that features Santa Fe High community members, which will be released in February on YouTube and shown at trade shows.

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