Los Angeles approves police robot dogs — RT World News
Several US cities have faced backlash for seeking to adopt the ‘dystopian’ and ‘scary’ technology
The Los Angeles City Council has authorized the use of a robotic “dog” device by the local police department, despite protests from residents and some dissident council members. New York previously unveiled similar technology and faced significant public backlash.
City lawmakers voted 8-4 on Tuesday to approve a donation of a “Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle” to the non-profit Los Angeles Police Foundation’s LAPD, which provided the force with the $277,000 robot free of charge.
Designed and manufactured by Boston Dynamics, the robotic dog is able to navigate terrain and buildings autonomously, and can be equipped with a wide range of monitoring equipment, sensors and more. “payloads”. For the police, it is generally intended for use in dangerous situations that could put officers at risk, acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for duty.
However, the new addition to the LAPD has come under heavy criticism from residents, with several citizens criticizing the council’s decision during public comments Tuesday. A resident said “I don’t want to arm myself [artificial intelligence]”, while another said that using the robot would eventually lead to “Robot Cops” ask “Haven’t you seen that iRobot or Terminator movie?”
Another citizen said that the public consultation period of the city council was “clearly performative” accusing local lawmakers of ignoring the wishes of their constituents.
“After listening to the overwhelming public comments, you are voting the opposite way. New York and San Francisco have already rejected these robot dogs. The LAPD does not need military weapons,” they said.
New York’s 2020 decision to employ the robotic dog, which the NYPD dubbed “Digidog,” proved equally controversial, with the city ending its first lease of the device after New Yorkers decried the technology as Orwellian. However, officials then reversed course and returned the dog to the force last month, with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell saying he would be used in a way that is “transparent, consistent and always done in close collaboration with the people we serve.”
San Francisco even considered allowing its police department to use robots for deadly purposes in emergencies, but later rejected the policy following public outcry.
LA adviser Hugo Soto-Martinez was among the lawmakers to vote against the decision, arguing that “The article is described as simply accepting a donation, but it really represents an expansion of current boundaries around policing and surveillance.”
City officials say the robot will primarily be used by the LAPD SWAT team and will “enhancing the security of agents” during “high risk incidents” adding that it would fill a “critical deviation” for the department given the unique characteristics of the device.
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