How does a mobile robot work for security tasks? What is the use of robotics in surveillance?

These are some of the questions that you have asked the Robotnik team in recent months.

Mobile surveillance robots are developed for the efficient automation of security and surveillance tasks such as patrolling, monitoring or early detection of dangers.

The article published in the Insight 2023 of AER Automation, the Spanish Association of Robotics, answers these questions through a use case of Robotnik: how to improve the security of an electrical substation with the mobile robot SUMMIT-XL.

Annuary article INSIGHT AER 2023

Robotnik optimizes the inspection of EDP's electrical substations using autonomous mobile robotics

The Spanish energy company EDP has incorporated Robotnik’s SUMMIT-XL into one of its electrical substations to perform mobile inspection and surveillance missions autonomously, becoming a benchmark company in the adoption of innovative technologies within the energy sector.

Mobile inspection robots incorporate advanced software, specific sensors, vision systems and lasers to intelligently recognize and interact with the environment, enabling new surveillance options in large areas that were previously unfeasible.

The use of inspection robotics is growing by approximately 20% each year, increasing its presence in various scenarios: refineries, old or dilapidated buildings, industrial plants, roads, tunnels, power stations or critical infrastructure. This growth responds to a need for automation and digitalization of inspection and surveillance processes due to both the high economic cost and the human risk involved.

SUMMIT-XL emerges as a solution designed to strengthen surveillance and security in various facilities, as exemplified by the use case of the electrical substation operated by the energy company EDP. In this specific application, the Robotnik mobile robot performs tasks of monitoring, patrolling, overheating detection, alarm transmission, navigation and high-quality data collection, which are communicated in real time to the relevant personnel.

Companies that manage infrastructures deployed over large areas, as in the case of EDP’s electrical substation, bear high maintenance costs, mostly caused by the displacement of operators and the low automation of inspection tasks.

Beyond executive costs, other challenges arise. Any incident at an electrical substation can have a significant impact on society, generating risks to public safety such as interruptions in the power supply that would affect businesses, hospitals, and homes, among others.

Failures in electrical substations pose threats whose repercussions span several sectors, from healthcare to telecommunications. For this reason, the main electric utilities internationally share the goal of rigorous maintenance practices, advanced monitoring systems, and technology that improves supervision procedures.

Román Navarro, Software Manager at Robotnik, states that:

“The technology and functionality provided by the SUMMIT-XL robot improves the reliability of inspection and maintenance tasks in areas that, by their nature, demand seamless operational efficiency, as is the case of EDP’s electrical substation.”


Essential activities that depend on critical infrastructures require high reliability and interrupted operation, since any system failure, regardless of whether caused by humans or natural phenomena, would have serious consequences for the population and a great cost for the company. As defined by the National Centre for Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity (CNPIC), critical infrastructures ‘are strategic infrastructures, which provide essential services and whose operation is essential and does not allow alternative solutions, so their disruption or destruction would have a serious impact on essential services’.

The implementation of the SUMMIT-XL in EDP’s electrical substation increases the safety of the facility and the operators themselves, preventing them from moving and reducing their exposure to a potentially hazardous environment.

In turn, the robot also has the ability to patrol assigned areas and detect any suspicious activity. If an intrusion or unusual behavior is detected, it will alert the distribution center’s security personnel and provide the information gathered in real-time about the location and nature of the threat. In this way, the staff receives the information from the control center, being able to quickly make the relevant decisions and assess whether their physical presence is necessary or can be intervened remotely.

To ensure effective surveillance, covering the entire area with no dead spots, SUMMIT-XL autonomously moves to any of the previously configured positions within the substation map, conducting patrols on the substation perimeter. During the patrol, the robot measures the temperature of the most critical points of the station, alerting the maintenance operator in case of detecting a value above the established limits.

In addition, when it detects that the battery level is not adequate, it will autonomously go to the charging station.

On the other hand, the system allows the monitoring and teleoperation of the system in real time, being able to move the robot to any point, within the station, where an inspection is intended to be carried out manually.


EDP has a strong presence in the energy market, serving millions of customers around the world and being recognized for its commitment to innovation, efficiency and sustainability.

Their responsibility to the environment has led them to push for significant measures that include the adoption of renewable energy-based processes and investment in technologies that promote progress.

The focus on sustainable innovation has driven the incorporation of the SUMMIT-XL with the aim of improving the management of the electrical substation infrastructure, as Darío González, from EDP, explains:

“This mobile autonomous inspection robot provides a series of benefits that have human, economic and ecological repercussions. Robotnik’s SUMMIT-XL mobile robot allows us to perform more accurate and frequent inspections, identifying potential problems early and thus reducing the risk of power outages, while maintaining the highest standards of quality and reliability.”

The robot is equipped with two cameras, one thermal and one high-resolution, mounted on a pan-tilt unit, an RTK GPS sensor and a 3D lidar. The final configuration of the sensors will depend on what is intended to be measured and detected based on the needs of the application.

Regular inspections and predictive maintenance are key to preventing these incidents, reducing unplanned downtime, reducing operational costs and mitigating the damage caused. Likewise, early detection of anomalies and preventive maintenance also help to extend the useful life of equipment by identifying problems such as wear, leaks or structural damage.

The successful deployment of this inspection robot at EDP’s electrical substation denotes the revolution that industrial inspection is experiencing thanks to autonomous mobile robotics. In its progress to provide new solutions in inspection, surveillance and security tasks, Robotnik has recently launched the RB-WATCHER autonomous mobile robot, a mobile robot designed exclusively for the industrial surveillance and security market.

Here you can find AER’s Insight 2023 with professional interviews, automation use cases in different areas and other relevant information on robotics news.

FAQs about robots for security and inspection

Companies can strengthen security with mobile surveillance robots that incorporate advanced technologies, such as high-resolution cameras and specialized sensors that provide continuous and efficient surveillance in critical areas.

A mobile security robot works through a combination of autonomous detection and navigation algorithms, using sensors to identify potential threats or anomalies in real time, thus providing a rapid response to risk situations.

Robotics in surveillance serves to improve security efficiency and coverage, as mobile robots can patrol large areas autonomously, empowering human work and providing constant, accurate and uninterrupted surveillance