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World’s first robot police dog unleashed in top-secret test of its crime-fighting skills


A police force has been quietly testing a new weapon in the fight against crime: a robot dog

Boston Dynamics’ Spot is being tested in secret by Massachusetts State Police in the US, which hopes to use it to investigate dangerous crime scenes, probe suspicious packages or discover a suspect’s hiding place.

It is believed to be the first time a robot dog has been used by a police force.

Spot is being used as a ‘mobile remote observation device’ and cops have signed an agreement with Boston Dynamics which forbids it from being used to ‘physically harm or intimidate people’, which means the robot won’t be armed.

‘Robot technology is a valuable tool for law enforcement because of its ability to provide situational awareness of potentially dangerous environments,’ police spokesman David Procopio told WBUR, which first reported the test.

It’s hoped robots will be used in situations which are too risky for humans.

‘In the next 5-10 years, we see first responders utilizing Spot to get eyes on dangerous situations, inspect suspicious packages, as well as sense hazardous gases in emergency situations,’ Boston Dynamics told Gizmodo.

A view of Spot the Robot Dog in action

‘Sending a nimble robot like Spot into these situations can remove humans from potentially life-threatening environments and provide emergency responders with better situational awareness of a crisis.’

The test has alarmed civil liberties campaigners, who want answers about the mechanical crimefighter will be used.

Kade Crockford, director of the technology for liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts told WBUR: ‘We just really don’t know enough about how the state police are using this.

‘And the technology that can be used in concert with a robotic system like this is almost limitless in terms of what kinds of surveillance and potentially even weaponization operations may be allowed.’

Spot, which comes equipped with a robotic arm for opening doors and a low-light camera. It can be operated autonomously or manually by remote and is fitted with perception sensors which let sense its surroundings so it can pick up or manipulate objects.

The robot has alarmed and astonished observers throughout its development,

Earlier this year, the SpotMini – a smaller version of the cyber-canine – was shown opening doors.

A video of this feat proved too much for the celebraated Corbynista and Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who tweeted out Boston Dynamics’ clip along with the words: ‘OK so we’re all going to die.’





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