The Los Angeles City Council~, accepted a $278,000 robotic dog despite several council members having “grave concerns” about the Boston Dynamics-produced machine. According to CBS Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Foundation offered the “Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle” as a gift to the Los Angeles Police Department. The report said that the donation would have expired if the council had not accepted it.
The robot dog, which is unarmed but equipped with surveillance technologies, was approved by the Los Angeles city council on Tuesday by a vote of 8 to 4. Most of the audience members who spoke at the meeting urged the council not to accept the offer because they were concerned that the machine might violate residents’ civil rights, according to CBS LA.
Eunisses Hernandez, a councilwoman from Los Angeles, had before expressed “grave concerns” about taking the donation. According to ABC7, she didn’t attend the voting on Tuesday. According to CBS LA, she said in a statement, “We’ve seen these robot dogs crop up in other police departments across the country, including New York and San Francisco, where the community is similarly resisting the introduction of this kind of depersonalized, military-style technology to municipal police forces.”
There are conditions tied to the LA council’s acceptance. The use of the robot and its results must be detailed in quarterly reports from the city’s police department, along with any issues that are encountered. According to CBS LA, the council has the power to revoke the use of the robot. Despite worries from some citizens that the machines could be problematic, particularly in underprivileged regions that have suffered violent policing, New York City recently introduced robot dogs to its police force. NYC Mayor Eric Adams praised the robot after it was used to enter a collapsing parking structure in New York City.
As videos of the four-legged machines have gone viral, including one that demonstrates a Boston Dynamic’s robot dog opening a door, they have spurred discussion and generated interest. However, the inclusion of the mechanical creatures in law enforcement operations has also generated controversy due to worries that they might be turned against humanity. “Just a week ago, everyone in the bleachers was criticizing me and asking, ‘Well, why are you getting that dog?'” stated Adams. “Now you see why I got the dog—to save lives.”
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