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After fierce backlash, the New York Police Department has ended its contract with the creator of a four-legged robotic dog, known as “Digidog.”
Multiple outlets, including The Guardian, reported the development on Friday. The police scrapped the $94,000 deal with its maker, Boston Dynamics, following concerns about its deployment in the city.
Some observers linked its use to police funding cuts and the increased militarization of policing in general.
Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.” A city government spokesperson told ABC7, “it’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers.”
Critics have also likened the remote-controlled robotic dogs to similar devices showcased in the dystopian Netflix series, Black Mirror. Others also note that the devices are emblematic of police dogs, which have traditionally been used to intimidate communities of color, per The Guardian.
Introduced in December 2020, the purpose of the robotic dogs was to “save lives, protect people, and protect offices,” according to NYPD’s, Frank Digiacomo, who spoke to ABC7.
Weighing in at 70 lbs and capable of running approximately three and a half miles per hour, the robotic dog is able to climb stairs, survey perilous areas and help offices identify dangers at crime scenes, NPR reports. It was mainly undergoing trials in the Bronx. In February, a viral video of the dog sparked controversy.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to the backlash, calling it a “robotic surveillance ground drone,” and praised those in her district who demanded police funding be directed to investments like school counseling instead.
Law officials have used armed robots in the past. In 2016, Dallas police officers used a robot bomb to kill a suspect of a shooting, which left five police officers dead.
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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech
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