By Eric Peterson | Oct 06, 2016
Industry: Electronics & Aerospace
The husband-and-wife team of Drs. Jim and Louise Gunderson started the company based on Jim's experience working as a security guard in college. His thought: Couldn't a robot handle some of the overnight shifts patrolling warehouses and shopping malls rather than a boredom-prone and sleep-deprived human being?
The couple set out to create a security robot with that in mind, melding artificial intelligence, mobility, and cutting-edge sensors. The goal of the R&D was to develop an autonomous security robot that would be more cost-effective than a living, breathing security guard.
"The problem in the [security] industry is high turnover and low reliability," says Pincus. "It becomes problematic to retain good people."
Before joining Gamma 2, Pincus headed marketing in the Americas for global security powerhouse G4S (formerly Wackenhut). "I was really in charge of driving innovation and innovative ideas from a marketing perspective," says Pincus.
His epiphany while working at G4S: "We should be looking to robots for mundane, dull, dirty, dangerous work that goes on in the night shift." After some research, Pincus "stumbled on to Jim and Louise's Gamma 2 Robotics," he says. "At the same time, they were investigating me because of an article where I said, 'Robots are the future of security.'"
After they met at the 2013 edition of ASIS International, a leading security trade show, Pincus left G4S and started consulting for Gamma 2, helping them close a $3.5 million Series A financing round in early 2015, at which point he stepped in as CEO.
The company subsequently moved from a small space in Denver to Lakewood. "We're in a 15,000-square-foot facility that is sort of a combination of office and warehouse," says Pincus.
In the time since, Gamma 2 built the next iteration of the Gunderson's security robot. "We have brought on a world-class chief robotics officer in Francis Govers," says Pincus. "He's built over 20 autonomous robots for the government."
The end result of Govers’ redesign is RAMSEE, an autonomous security robot with heat, motion, and other sensors that acts as "a force multiplier," says Pincus. "It's really a mobile data-sensing platform."
While the most comparable robot currently on the market is designed for outdoor patrols, RAMSEE is designed as "an overnight security force” for indoor environments: Pincus highlights warehouses, data centers, and shopping malls. "The immediate reaction we hear is, 'They're not going to be sleeping or stealing.'"
Pincus casts the robot as a breakthrough for the security industry. "We have a pretty robust patent portfolio on some of the secret sauce making RAMSEE autonomous and artificially intelligent," he explains, describing a "cloud-based learning model" that could transfer effective behaviors between robots operating in similar environments. "Now you've got a shared intelligence across your fleet of robots," he says. "It's very exciting and scary at the same time."
After RAMSEE debuted at ASIS 2016, interest has been strong. "We have a very robust sales pipeline," says Pincus. "The market is really ready for disruption."
He adds, "We have several pilot purchase programs in play now with some major customers -- global customers and U.S. government customers. . . . We've got interest from all five continents."
Small-scale manufacturing is ongoing in Lakewood, but Gamma 2 will work with Flextronics in Austin, Texas, to produce initial RAMSEE orders. Hexagon AB, a Swedish software developer, is a strategic partner, and will deliver a software-as-a-service package. "We're in the process of determining our pricing model," says Pincus.
Challenges: "Key challenges right now are speed to market, getting the financing we need to ramp up, and standard startup-type challenges," says Pincus.
Opportunities: A long and varied runway for growth. "It's about a $140 billion market worldwide," says Pincus. "That's just the commercial side of security, not law enforcement or public security."
Needs: Capital. A Series B raise is in the works to scale manufacturing. "It's probably going to be in the $10 million range," says Pincus, targeting spring 2017 for closing.
Two other coming needs: "We're going to need all sorts of engineers -- software engineers, electrical engineers, systems engineers, robotics engineers -- to ramp up," he adds. "We're also looking for some test facilities in the Denver area, warehouses and data centers. That would be a huge help."