Labor shortages have affected large parts of the world and various industries, including security. Ascento Robotics yesterday announced pre-seed funding of $4.3 million and the launch of its Ascento Guard autonomous robot for outdoor patrols.
“The global security industry is facing mounting challenges,” said Allesandro Morra, co-founder and CEO of Ascento. “Labor shortages mean a lack of qualified personnel available to do the work, which involves long shifts during anti-social hours or in bad weather.”
“To compound matters, there is high staff turnover in the industry—as much as 47% annually,” he asserted in a release. “By providing a robotics-as-a-service [RaaS] solution to security companies, Ascento aims to address these challenges.”
Ascento provides robots and proprietary artificial intelligence to patrol large, outdoor, private properties. The Zurich, Switzerland-based startup said its systems can check points of interest, detect edge cases on premises such as those of factories, data centers, energy plants, pharmaceuticals manufacturers, and luxury goods makers.
Ascento Guard addresses labor shortages
Many countries around the world face a 52% shortage of security guards, according to Gitnux Market Data. To help companies fulfill contractual obligations or sign new business, Ascento has developed robots with wheels and legs to navigate diverse terrain with agility and stability.
“Ascento is targeting the high operating costs the industry is enduring,” Morra said. “The traditional approach is to use either people or fixed installed cameras. We know about the labor challenges, and the installation of cameras has a huge outlay that can be complex.”
“The Ascento Guard provides the best of both worlds, with the resilience, reliability, and repeatability of technical solutions while being as flexible as human guards,” he added.
The Ascento Guard can detect unwanted people or bad actors, verify perimeter integrity, and check that doors and windows are closed. It can also record property lights, identify floods and fires, and control parking lots, said the company.
The security robot can move at walking speed of 4.5 km/h (2.7 mph) and charge itself so that it can be in continuous operation without human intervention, Ascento said. Companies can install and deploy the robot in a few hours, it claimed.
AI app and RaaS offer flexibility
The Ascento app analyzes video and images with AI and integrates with existing video management systems. It also provides end-to-end, encrypted communications and shares actionable reports, the company said.
With the RaaS model, companies can hire Ascento Guard by the hour, and the cost includes deployment, 24/7 support, service, and repairs. Ascento said its robots have already been deployed on large industrial sites and have covered more than 3,000 km (1,864.1 mi.) since early this year.
The company said its customers include large outdoor warehouses, industrial manufacturing, and a pharmaceuticals campus, among others.
“The new Ascento Guard offers hope and a breath of fresh air for the security industry facing some pressing challenges,” said Morra. “By supporting human security personnel with the Ascento Guard, security companies can offer a lean solution through which Ascento does the heavy lifting, allowing humans to focus on the unique nuances of the work.”
The Ascento Guard Web interface. Click on image to enlarge. Source: Ascento
Investors look for best-in-class solutions
Wingman Ventures and Playfair led Ascento’s pre-seed round. Participating investors included:
- Tim Kentley-Klay, founder of Zoox, which exited to Amazon
- Ryan Gariepy, co-founder and chief technology officer Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors, which Rockwell Automation recently acquired
- Daniel Kottlarz, founder of MYBOTSHOP, largest robotics research reseller in Europe
- Tobias Redlin, founder of IGO3D, which said it is largest desktop 3D printer distributor in Europe
Ascento’s funding included non-dilutive funding from the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse and the European Space Agency incubator ESA BIC.
“We accompanied the founder team for over a year as sparring partners and the dedication, execution speed and how the team is listening to its customers to build the right solution is astonishing,” said Pascal Mathis, founding partner at Wingman Ventures. “We look forward to making the life of security guards easier and the objects they protect safer.”
Chris Smith, managing partner at Playfair, commented: “Many of the world’s most pressing business challenges cannot be solved by software alone. We see the next decade as providing a huge opportunity for companies building in robotics to solve these challenges. Ascento’s combination of a world-class team, best-in-class technology, and a large global market with significant labor and pricing pressures made this a compelling investment opportunity for us.”
The founding team, from left to right: Dominik Mannhart, Allesandro Mora, Ciro Salzmann, and Miguel de la Iglesia Valls. Source: Ascento
Ascento is hiring to scale
Morra co-founded Ascento with Miguel de la Iglesia Valls (now chief technology officer), Ciro Salzmann (electronics and software), and Dominik Mannhart (software and hardware). They combined their experience as security guards with the robotics that they developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) as students.
Ascento’s team has grown to more than 10 people, as new customers sign up every month. It said fleet mileage has grown over 70% month over month since the beginning of 2023. The company is hiring across sales and operations to scale its fleet of Ascento Guards.
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