Digidog, a Robotic Dog Used by the Police, Stirs Privacy Concerns

Two people were being held hostage in a Bronx apartment. Police said they were threatened at gunpoint, tortured and tortured for hours by two others who pretended to be plumbers to go inside.

One of the victims managed to escape and called police, who showed up at the apartment on East 227 Street on Tuesday morning, unsure if armed people were still inside.

Police decided it was time to deploy Digidog, a 70-pound robotic dog with a loping gait, cameras and lights affixed to its frame, and a two-way communication system that allowed the officer to see And allows maneuver from afar to hear what is going on. .

police Robot said One can look in the dark and assess how safe it is for officers to enter an apartment or building where there may be a danger.

In the case of the Bronx home invasion, police said the Digidog helped officers determine that no one was inside. Police said they were still searching for the two men who stole a cellphone and $ 2,000 in cash and used hot iron to burn one of the victims.

“NYPD has been using robots since the 1970s to save lives in hostage situations and dangerous incidents.” The department said on Twitter. “This model of the robot is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against our emergency services unit and other models used by the bomb squad.”

But the robot has its doubts.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, described Digidog On twitter “Robot Surveillance Ground” as drone.

“Please ask yourself: When was the last time you saw world-class technology for the next generation, education, health care, housing, etc., in a way that made a constant preference for unqualified communities?” that Said on twitterAdd to Story about the New York Post Digidog.

The city council passed the Public Status of Monitoring Technology Act between last June Attempts to overcome police forceMany of them triggered Black Lives Matter performances.

The Act required the police department to be more transparent about its surveillance and technology tools, including Digidog, something civil libertarians lacked.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said empowering robots to do police work could have implications for bias, mobile surveillance, hacking and privacy. There is also concern that robots can be combined with other technology and made into weapons.

“We adopt powerful new surveillance and other technology without telling many departments of police, who live alone, they ask,” he said. “So openness and transparency are key.”

The New York Police Department did not respond to requests for comment regarding civil liberties concerns.

A mobile device that can gather intelligence about an unstable situation that has “tremendous potential” to limit injuries and fatalities, said Sergeant Keith Taylor, a former SWAT Team of Police Department, who owns the John Jay College of Criminal Justice I teach

“It is important to question the police authority, although it is very straightforward,” he said. “It is designed to help law enforcement obtain the information they need without lethal firepower.”

The New York Police Department is one of three in the country, including a mechanical dog created by Boston Dynamics, a tech company known for its robot videos Dance And The jump Terrific, human with equal fluidity.

The company called Robot Dog Spot started selling it last June. Most buyers are utility and energy companies, as well as manufacturers and construction companies, who use it to be too dangerous for humans in space, said Michael Perry, vice president of business development at the company.

Robots have been used to inspect sites with hazardous materials. Early in the epidemic, it was used by health care workers to communicate with potentially ill patients at hospital triage sites, Mr. Perry said.

He said that most companies rename the robot after purchasing it, giving it names like Bolt and Mac and Cheese.

The Massachusetts State Police and the Honolulu Police Department are also using it. Other police departments have called the company to learn more about the robot, which has an initial cost of about $ 74,000 and may cost more with additional features, Mr. Perry said.

The robotic dog, which has a 90-minute battery life and runs at a top speed of three mph, was not designed to act as a covert tool of mass surveillance, Mr. Perry said.

“It’s noise and flashing lights,” he said. “This is not something that is irrational.”

The use of robots to be deployed in dangerous situations may be ideal to keep police officers out of harm’s way.

In 2016 in Dallas, police ended the standoff with a gunman in the murders of five officers By flying it using a robot.

In 2015, a man threatening to jump off a bridge in San Jose, California was detained by police after police gave a robot a cellphone and a pizza.

A department report said that a year ago, Albuquerque police used a robot to “deploy chemical munis” in the room of a motel where a man locked himself with a gun. He surrendered.

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