There’s something so traditional about a storage space; It’s three walls and a rolling door. But perhaps despite appearances, we at Public Storage are always trying to mix things up, to make storage better by adding technology in a very friendly way.
That’s how we started our friendship with a portly white robot with some familiar nicknames:
“They’ve called him R2-D2, C-3PO, I, Robot. Every time I get an email about him it’s a different name,” said area manager Dawn Sino-Cruz of the 400 pound Conehead that looks like an SNL character.
His sense of humor, however, needs a little work based on our early conversations:
“I am a security robot,” he tells customers.
Or: “Thank you for visiting Public Storage. If you have a question, please visit the office.”
His looks, however, bring plenty of space-age fun to one of our Santa Ana locations in Southern California where he “lives.” Little “R2-D2” roams the property 24/7, always vigilant, except during his periodic battery recharging sessions.
Yes, This is The Droid You’re Looking For
With a 360-degree view from cameras mounted up top, and a habit of setting off siren lights and strobes if triggered, our robot friend is sure to get your attention if you visit.
Like C-3PO, our droid is also a stickler for rules. He makes his rounds around the property to inform customers it’s almost closing time and alert those who are still on site past business hours. He lets customers know they can get help in the front office when they need it.
For sci-fi fans out there, yes our friend does have his own language of peeps to announce his presence. He also speaks Spanish and English to humans.
The goal is to have him act as a deterrent, said Jeffery Cox, vice president of Loss Prevention and Safety for Public Storage.
After all, its computer sends updates on the location and can detect people and cars as well as read license plates.
Our robot friend is more than halfway through a six-month pilot program. However, like the rest of us, he has to earn his keep. Unfortunately, if he does not improve life at the property, he’ll be headed to another job (in a galaxy) far, far away.
Better Living Through Technology
“It’s part of our overall strategy to try and see what’s out there and evaluate it before our competitors do, and really test it out fully,” said John Ruby, senior director of Loss Prevention and Safety. “What’s the future of robots and how would it apply to Public Storage, and does it have a fit?”
Response from the public to his personality has been overwhelmingly positive, said Sino-Cruz.
“He’s our mini employee.”
According to Knightscope, the manufacturer, this model of robot was used by a police department in Southern California to monitor a park for a year where it helped reduce crime reports by 46%.
Ruby said this pilot program is helping the company understand the logistics of setting up a robot as well as identifying other properties where some additional “friends” could move in.
“No matter what the test proves, it’s a good value for us,” Ruby said. “We’ll know if it’s a few years ahead of its time, or, ‘this is a great tool and let’s do more.’”
We’re always evaluating ways to improve the experience for our customers. In the last year, we launched a new app which makes it easy to enter the gate and door with just a swipe of button.
We’ve also made it easier for you to rent a unit completely online through our eRental program.