In the face of criticism, New York police terminate use of Spot robot

New York City Police (NYPD) stop experimenting with Spot, the quadruped robot designed by Boston Dynamics. It will be delivered sooner than expected due to criticism leveled against it by locals and politicians, reports The New York Times. For some, it would be the symbol of an increased militarization of the NYPD, and this in an already tense context of police violence out of control.

A sign of the militarization of the police?

For its detractors, the arrival of a robotic system among the police is the sign of an overly aggressive law enforcement policy. Renamed Digidog by the NYPD, the robot was reportedly used in six interventions, some of which came under fire. For example, Digidog was deployed as part of a response to a home invasion in the Bronx last February. During this event it was compared to a dystopian surveillance drone.

Likewise, further reports the NYT, Digidog was used this month in a building with social housing, prompting a backlash from some residents who described it as emblematic of excessive police aggression. facing poor communities. Reactions contrary to the ambitions of the NYPD, which originally explained that it wanted to test Spot in situations deemed dangerous for the police. The advanced goal is to save lives using this robot.

A contract worth $ 94,000

Spot’s capacities were to be tested until the end of August, when its rental was initially due to end. In the end, in the face of criticism, it was decided to make the robot faster. Police officials said the rental agreement, worth around $ 94,000, was terminated on April 22. It is not specified whether part of this amount could be recovered.

Michael Perry, an executive at Boston Dynamics, said nearly 500 quadrupedal robots are currently deployed in the field. The vast majority of these devices are used by private or public companies on construction sites or in situations deemed dangerous to humans. Only four robots, including Digidog, are used by police officers. A device was also recently tested by the French Army. For its part, Boston Dynamics regularly recalls that its robots are not designed to be used as weapons, inflict damage or intimidate people or animals.

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