The news has generated a stir in the United States, as it is still unknown to what extent they are safe. The agents assure that they are carrying out tests with them to verify it, although they have already taken them on two missions. The images impact. Two robot dogs stand in front of a house on a quiet, deserted street. Their appearance is a little unsettling: they are the shape and size of a canid, but they are made of plastic and metal.
His attitude doesn’t seem very friendly. They have “their eyes” fixed on the entrance. What do they seek? Or who? They seem willing to find it. One of them, equipped with an arm that protrudes from his head, takes the doorknob and opens it. His partner follows him inside.
The scene lasts only a few seconds, but it makes your hair stand on end. It is real, although it may seem like the beginning of a futuristic dystopia. These are the robot dogs from Boston Dynamics, which the Massachusetts police are testing for their missions.
We can see part of these tests from minute 10.20 of this video, in a conference in which the CEO of the company, Marc Raibert, presents the numerous possibilities of use that they offer, which go far beyond security. Logistics or construction, even health, are some of them.
What can they do?
Spot robot dogs are the fruit of many years of work and improvements. Thus, they are able to move with agility in all types of terrain, they can even climb a hill or walk through a snowy surface carrying a camera.
They carry up to 14 kilograms of weight and can communicate with each other to coordinate. With all these characteristics, the Massachusetts police have not let them pass. Without a doubt, they can be very useful tools not only for the surveillance of an area, but also to examine suspicious artefacts, such as bombs, or dangerous places that can be life-threatening.
The machines have been on sale since the end of last year. However, the controversy has been generated around the images described and their police use.
The United States Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked the law enforcement agencies for explanations. How and when are you using them? Who are the agents who accompany them? Will robot dogs carry weapons?
In his opinion, there is no clear legislation on the use of this technology and it may compromise the rights and freedoms of citizens.
In response, Massachusetts police have reported that they are using them as remote observation devices. He has also reported that they have already been used in two actual incidents, but have not detailed more. Of course, Boston Dynamics, the manufacturing company, has sent a message to Gizmodo to clarify the issue: “Our agreement with customers does not allow the use of Spot to harm and intimidate people.”
They also state that the Massachusetts police are currently their only clients in the area of public safety, although they hope that they will be much more soon: “For the next five or 10 years, the emergency services will use these agile robot dogs.” So will the oil, gas and electricity industries, mining and nuclear decommissioning.
They will do it? Will they be the next life-saving tools or will they instead become uncontrollable and dangerous machines? Marc Raibert maintains that their inventions are not dangerous: “I know that there are many people who consider them threatening because of their appearance, but they are not evil. It is not the arms or the legs that cause bad actions, but the emotions, the personality and the ego, and the robots do not have them ”. At the moment.