Meet Digidog, The Real Life Robocop

The New York Police Department has started using a robotic companion to ensure the safety of officers in potentially life-threatening environments

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16 Mar, 2021

The Spot robot from Boston Dynamics

The Spot robot from Boston Dynamics

This article was discussed in our Next Byte podcast

The full article will continue below.

The Digidog

The New York Police department purchased a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics - which the department later named Digidog (personally I feel like this is a missed opportunity to call it RoboPup but oh well) - with the intention of providing an extra layer of safety for the officers called to a scene by having the robot inspect the perimeter. 

First Day On The Job

Digidog's first call to action came when two men were being held captive and tortured in their home by armed intruders who were disguised as plumbers to gain entry. When police were eventually called to the scene by one of the captives who managed to escape, they decided to deploy Digidog and get a better idea of the situation inside the building before officers entered. Unfortunately, the intruders had already escaped but the victims were able to walk away from the situation with non life-threatening injuries. 

Robots On The Force

Although this might be the first utilization of a Boston Dynamics Spot by a police department, authorities have actually been getting extra assistance from robotics for quite some time now. In fact, here are some notable instances in recent years:

2016 | Dallas, Texas: officers naturalized a target that had murdered 5 officers using a robot

2015 | San Jose, California: robot delivery of some pizza and a phone helped talk down an armed man off the ledge who was planning on jumping off a bridge

2014 | Albuquerque, New Mexico: gunman surrendered after robot deployed chemical munitions into the motel room where he had barricaded himself

The Opposition

Skeptics aren't too eager to embrace the addition of our new metallic friends to the force. Some, including congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have voiced their concerns regarding over-policing of underserved communities and the hefty price tag accompanied by each unit (base price = ~74,000 USD) which could be better spent elsewhere; however, since the Digibot has already started to prove its worth by minimizing endangerment of officers in the field, I suspect it is only a matter of time before we start seeing officers and their robotic partners nationwide.

16 Mar, 2021

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