While the technology behind robot dogs is undoubtedly cool, many are deterred by their use cases. Robotic canines have already been used in the police force and border control, leading to many privacy concerns. However, what if those services were used by a force that are generally more trusted?
Robot Dog Firefighters
Reported by The New York Times, The New York Fire Department has a new member: Spot the Robot Dog. Designed by Boston Dynamics, the $75,000 robot dog is a cutting edge piece of kit that will now assist with firefighting.
The robot dogs will be used to scout out dangerous environments in Search and Rescue missions. Controlled by a human operator, the expensive machines will “collect images and data” as well as monitor the concentration of toxic gasses.
Spot will be predominantly used to save as many lives as possible. For example, by scouting out dangerous locales ahead of time, human firefighters are granted far more information than they'd normally have. This means that they are more prepared than ever, and will be able to save lives while protecting their own.
NYFD Captain Michael Leo explained that some are wary of the robot dogs, but they shouldn't be scared. He explained:
“The TV industry and the movie industry are hurting us in some ways because they often show pictures of robots that are weaponised, and then people think that's how all robots are. Our whole mission is a lifesaving one. That's the core thing. These robots will save lives.”
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A police handover
The New York Fire Department’s acquisition of robot dogs comes after the technically was taken away from the New York Police. Boston Dynamics’ robotics technology was used in an arrest in Manhattan last year.
Afterwards, Boston Dynamics was forced to terminate its contract with the police force. Privacy concerns and the unsettling nature of robot cops were cited as reasons for the tech being axed from the force.
The technology could certainly be rather frightful in a police scenario. However, in a firefighting scenario, they may be less frightful. Additionally, the use of Spot to save lives may end up improving the reputation of the technology.