City council approves robot dogs for LAPD

City council approves robot dogs for LAPD | The Hill

City council approves robot dogs for LAPD  at george magazine
AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Marc Raibert, left rear, founder and chair of Boston Dynamics watches one of the company’s Spot robots during a demonstration, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at their facilities in Waltham, Mass.(AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

The Los Angeles City council on Tuesday approved a “robot dog” for use by the LA Police Department.

The council voted 8-4 to approve the donation of a “Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle” despite criticism from the public ahead of the vote. 

The council’s site says the tech, valued at $277,917, comes from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a non-profit that says it’s geared toward supporting the LAPD. Boston Dynamics, a robotics design company, is manufacturing the devices.

“Your taking public comment is clearly performative. After listening to overwhelming public comments, you vote the opposite way. New York City and San Francisco have already rejected these robot dogs. The LAPD does not need military weapons,” said one local resident who called into the committee for public comment via phone. 

“This item is being painted as merely an acceptance of a donation, but it really represents an expansion of the current boundaries around policing and surveillance,” said LA Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez.

The donation is geared at enhancing officer safety, according to a filing, as it can be deployed into high-risk incidents before officers. But opponents argue it could be used unfairly against communities of color.

The New York Police Department rolled out similar tech back in 2021 and then canceled its use after backlash. A robotic dog reportedly rejoined the force last month.

The New York City Fire Department last year moved to use the robot dogs to assist with search-and-rescue missions. San Francisco last year also canceled a plan to allow police robots to use lethal force.



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