In the state of Massachusetts of United States, the police tested the dog-robots for three months. This robot-dogs, the “Spots” does not really look like doggies. It seems more like Meccano, articulated construction games. An excellent and straight body, four metal legs quite high (height to the withers: about a meter), and a square camera as ahead, which allows them a 360-degree vision.
Controlled remotely, the “Spots” can carry 14 kg maximum. IP54 certified they are operational even in extreme temperatures, between -20 ° C and 45 ° C. Even, if their autonomy is limited to 90 minutes. They know how to climb stairs, avoid obstacles, walk-in sand, get up when they fall, and even dance!
Since September, these robots are available for rent. They come with an API that allows the client company to install their own programs. The demining unit of the Massachusetts police force, for its part, claims to have used them as is.
Mass. State Police got to use @BostonDynamics’ Spot the robot dog for three months this year. That’s raising questions about what kind of policies there should be about how police can use robots. https://t.co/SVTjc0J2bJ pic.twitter.com/px22Ooj5Yr
— ally jarmanning (@allyjarmanning) November 25, 2019
In this filmed exercise, two black robot dogs are standing in front of a bungalow. The first opens the door in seconds, thanks to ultra-powerful articulated arm in the form of a clamp (sold as an option). He bends down to avoid possible shots, blocks the door with a paw, and stands ready to enter the inside while his teammate withdraws the monitor, well on his feet.
Twice these robotic dogs worked in real life with the police – who did not give details about their mission.
Unarmed robot dogs
The aim is to use them in risky situations for men: to check suspicious packages, to detect leaks of gas or toxic products in the mines, to film during a hostage-taking….. for the most part to collect information, but in no way to be armed. Boston Dynamics has a mandatory clause in its contracts: no question “to use the robots in a way that could physically hurt or intimidate people.” All to avoid replaying scenes from the BlackMirror series:
For associations of civil rights defenders, however, the safeguards are insufficient… How to avoid misuse? An invasion of privacy? The ACLU (The American Union for Civil Liberties) fears that the police leave too much autonomy to the robots, with the risk of seeing the artificial intelligence judge the criminals themselves.
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The NGO denounces above all a lack of transparency. Government agencies: “need to be clear to the public on how they intend to test and deploy these new technologies.” She calls on Boston Dynamics executives and governments to work together to ensure that the law evolves with the pace of technology.