One thing was made clear at this year’s CES: Robots are still the future, whether in humanoid form like we’ve always imagined or just through artificial intelligence embedded deep in smart home hubs and driverless cars. Today, prolific designer Yves Béhar and Silicon Valley startup Cobalt unveils a fresh addition to the space, an indoor security robot designed to roam offices with some 60 sensors in tow, scanning IDs and picking up suspicious behavior and hazards like broken windows and water leaks.
While modern offices already make use of surveillance sensors and robots for cleaning or telepresence purposes, the Cobalt robot is a departure from the usual in both form and function. When designing a robot, Béhar explains in an phone interview, it’s very important to think about context. For him, a robot for the office called for something that will fit right in like a piece of furniture. To that end, the Cobalt looks more like a sleek (but large) speaker or humidifier, made of aluminum and a fabric that comes in easy-to-match dark blue and off-white.
Rather than having all the brains contained with the device itself, the Cobalt is the first office robot to have a “human co-pilot.” That is, employees will be able to call real human security staff, who will appear on screen for additional assistance. “It is not a robot that replaces humans,” Béhar says. “It collaborates with humans.”
The Cobalt is designed to be able to survey high shelving, walls, and cubicles, across a full floor of an office. The idea is that for companies without the resources to to hire 24-hour security guards for the entire office, a fleet of Cobalt robots can step in and fill the gaps.
Pricing has not yet been disclosed.