Houston Methodist Hospital introduces new robot duo to help keep patients safe, evil doers at bay
Visitors to Houston Methodist Hospital are drawn to the hospital’s two newest additions to its security team – Holmes and Watson. No, the two fictional Victorian-era detectives have not come to life, these are the names chosen by the staff for the two robots that are now patrolling the hospital.
“The Knightscope K3 robots are not a replacement for human security officers, but simply an addition to our technology much in the same way as we use cameras and access control systems on doors,” said Elhadji Sarr, director of public safety at Houston Methodist Hospital. “They help us keep patients, visitors and staff safe.”
Both robots feature 360-degree video capabilities and thermal cameras giving security personnel an enhanced look at the areas they patrol. They are also equipped with a two-way audio system that allows communication with live security personnel, and also allows staff to broadcast pre-recorded and live audio messages to visitors and staff in case of an emergency. Both robots have an emergency button that anyone can press to communicate directly with live security personnel at any time.
The K3 robots are programmed to patrol public hallways on the first and second floors of campus buildings. They are equipped with object avoidance and smart navigation, which helps them understand their environment and make smart decisions to maneuver to where they’re going. The robots provide real-time information on potential problems or threats helping officers make better informed and faster decisions. In addition they assist patients and visitors with wayfinding.
“Keeping our patients and staff safe is paramount and these robots help our security team do just that,” said Roberta Schwartz, executive vice president of Houston Methodist Hospital. “We are excited to introduce this new technology and innovation to the Texas Medical Center.”
Don’t expect to see the duo chasing down potential suspects as they travel at a top speed of three miles per hour. The robots are also not armed – figuratively or literally. The robots resemble R2 units from Star Wars featuring a cylindrical frame measuring 51 inches tall, weighing 340 pounds each and rolling around on four wheels.
“The response to these K3 robots at Houston Methodist Hospital has been very positive,” said Sarr. “This is a very large campus, and these two units will help security personnel patrol more efficiently and effectively, and help us keep everyone safe.”