The New York Police Department (NYPD) has announced the return of the controversial robot dog (named Spot) from Boston Dynamics, almost two years after it was recalled due to complaints from the public.
According to NYPD spokespeople, the dog has been brought in to enter areas that might be too dangerous for human police officers and provide a live feed of events.
The previous ‘Digidog’, which was first revealed in December 2020, was returned to the robotics manufacturer based on complaints around its use enforcing an aggressive model of policing.
Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, said: “Digidog is now part of the toolkit we are using…I’m a computer geek and I believe that technology is here and we cannot be afraid of it.”
The NYPD has said the dogs will not be armed, nor will they be equipped with facial recognition software.
Keechant Sewell, police commissioner for New York City, said: “The NYPD was among the first police departments in the world to implement fingerprinting and mug shots.
“New York was the first city to widely adopt the 9-1-1 call system for emergencies. We realise the potential of computing to store, track and analyse crime data…the NYPD has always stepped forward. In every era we have maximised public and officer safety through emerging technology and that approach continues today.”
A new tracking system called StarChase, which will enable officers to launch a GPS tag that attaches itself to a stolen vehicle, has also been announced.
The Autonomous Security Robot, which Adams compared to a Roomba, will be deployed inside the Times Square subway station in a seven-month pilot program starting this summer, police officials said.
Criticising the move and the use of funds, Ileana Mendez-Penate, program director of Communities United for Police Reform, said: “This latest announcement is just the most recent example of how Mayor Adams allows unmitigated overspending of the NYPD’s massively bloated budget.
“The NYPD is buying robot dogs and other fancy tech while New Yorkers can’t access food stamps because city agencies are short-staffed, and New Yorkers are getting evicted because they can’t access their right to counsel.”
The dogs will initially be paired with a human partner when operating within the community.