Robot dog's role in New York garage collapse incident justifies its use says City mayor

Critics are not fully convinced though.
Ameya Paleja
Spot the Digidog
Spot the Digidog

NYC Mayor's Office/Twitter 

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced the induction of two robotic dogs into its force, a move that was opposed by rights activists citing surveillance concerns. Now an incident of a garage collapse where a robotic dog was used in search and rescue operations is being hailed by the City Mayor Eric Adams as justification for its use, The New York Times reported.

The robotic dogs inducted belong to Boston Dynamics, which Interesting Engineering has extensively covered over the years. Their robotic dog, dubbed Spot, has been designed for use in adverse situations and is equipped with abilities and sensors.

Robotic dog in garage collapse operation

When the garage collapsed, the squad with the robot dog the department calls Bergh was nearby and quickly dispatched to the scene. According to the Mayor and the Fire Department commissioner Laura Kavanagh, the team used the thermal camera on the dog to determine that nobody was trapped in the debris and inspect the buildings' structural components, the NYT report said.

However, clips of the robotic dog tumbling over at the site have emerged on social media, questioning its utility during the operation.

During a media briefing, the City Mayor and other officials also pushed the robotic dog occasionally to demonstrate that it could stand. They asked themselves again.

Critics of technology adoption, however, are not convinced. The induction of the robotic dogs was criticized over fears of surveillance and invasion of individual privacy. Rights activists told the NYT that while the robotic dog was a handy tool for the Fire Department, it did not justify its use by the police.

Instead, they sought more details of the dog's role in the garage collapse operations and asked the police to furnish more detailed information, which would help in determining if the robotic dog's position was indeed necessary, as the officials were suggesting.

Although the dog can stream video of what it sees at the site back to its handlers, the feed is not recorded, so there is no evidence to support the claims.

Apart from the robotic dog, even drones were dispatched to the site, but the department has stopped praising their role. Robot dogs are also controversial due to their high price tags. Acquired for $75,000, the dogs were modified to add special features, raising their costs to $250,000.

Adams is seeking justification for the induction of the dogs alongside other technology he introduced earlier this month. Mr. Adams believes embracing technology is the way to keep the police ahead of the perpetrators in New York City.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board