A vision to empower humanity through autonomy and accessible robotic security
In 2016 VisitScotland Business Events launched an exciting new campaign targeting the MICE market: Legends. This campaign showcases the sector strengths in Scotland from bio-engineering, to digital technology, life sciences, space and engineering. As part of the campaign we ran a competition to discover the Young Legends of tomorrow, to meet those young people in Scotland who are working on incredible new ideas that will strengthen our advanced sectors, and who may just have the next idea that can become a Legend. In this blog we meet Selby Cary Co-founder and CEO of CST, a robotics start up from Edinburgh with big ambitions.
By Selby Cary, Co-founder and CEO of CS Technologies
CST is a robotics start-up based in Edinburgh building autonomous surveillance vehicles for perimeter security. Our vision is to empower humanity through autonomy, by enabling accessible robotic security. Our first robot, Mantis, was a self-stabilising wheel that could overcome rough terrain and capture stable video data. Our patent-pending technology started out its life as an undergraduate master’s project at Heriot-Watt University with a range of data collection applications; from agricultural crop monitoring to perimeter security. Over the past 12 months, our product suite has grown – offering an integrated and accessible robotic security system that fills the gap between fixed cameras and manned patrols.
For the 185,000 commercial properties in the UK, this improves the reliability and accountability of existing security systems, achieving an 85% overall cost saving. The multi-terrain hardware provides high performance capabilities (20kph top speed up to 15hrs), combining autonomous software, secure transmission and data analytics into one accessible package. This makes CST unique in the security sector – removing the barriers to entry for most security clients by providing value at every stage. We have established close relationships with suppliers, installers and distributors and field tested our prototypes with warehouses, distilleries and even airports. Some people would call us ‘lucky’, however, as we have learnt “Luck is the residue of good planning and hard work”.
The life of an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as the media suggests – it’s the most challenging, thrilling and fulfilling thing you can do, but it’s also time consuming and mentally draining. The reality is success requires sacrifice, so ask yourself, how much are you prepared for? Those people who are passionate, resilient and willing to learn will undoubtedly achieve greatness. Building a business requires a regimented mind, good communication skills, a strong team and a robust plan.
My co-founder, Michael, and I have been through inspiring ‘ups’ and demoralising ‘downs’ but we persevered. At university, we spent our free time testing our whacky inventions, studying by day and solving the world’s problems by night. After winning the Edinburgh Apprentice in 2017, we founded a social enterprise, Helping Cups, with the aim of reducing plastic coffee cup waste. This eye-opening experience helped us unlock our potential and inspired us to setup Casta Spes Technologies (CST). All it took was a little push in the right direction and a leap of faith.
Our first commercial challenge was finding our product-market fit. We began by using a ‘lean start-up’ methodology, targeting the industry with the fastest purchasing cycle and that required the least investment: cinematography. However, we quickly learnt that competing against well-established international brands was no walk in the park. Our trajectory changed almost overnight after an enlightening meeting with the CEO of an infrastructure company, who saw the significance of Mantis as a surveillance robot. As they say, the rest is history. Nonetheless, without the support and advise of the wider business community in Scotland, we would not be where we are today.
Ideas are great, but execution is best. Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once said; “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”. At first, building a security robot seemed daunting, but as every day passed, our dream became a reality. The infamous Scottish inventor, James Watt, did not invent steam power but improved it so drastically, it changed the world. Arguably, without James Watt, we would not have invented locomotive trains or even steam-powered ships.
I would say, to anyone with an idea that may seem crazy, don’t be afraid to pursue it. No matter how tall the mountain may seem today, if you take it one step at a time, you can overcome anything.
With thanks to Selby Cary and everyone at CST.