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Monday, July 13, 2020

Spot, a robot dog tested by Police, goes on sale

A robot dog tested by Massachusetts State Police late last year is now available for purchase.

Boston Dynamics, the company behind the semi-automatic robot, says the dog is available for a variety for commercial uses. The State Police had Spot on loan from Boston Dynamics for use in the state’s bomb squad for three months in 2019.

The company calls Spot a “general purpose” robot, allowing for a variety of customization within its own software.  It has a 360-degree low-light camera and an arm.

“Spot” has been called “terrifying” raising questions from civil rights advocates about how much oversight should be scene surrounding police robotic programs.

Boston Dynamics has already said it doesn’t want to have Spot weaponized, with clauses included requiring the robot not to be used to “physical harm or intimidate people.” In 2016, Dallas Police rigged a robot with C4 to kill a sniper following a five hour long standoff.

It was the first reported purposeful rigging of a robot to kill a person by Police.

Spot is available for short-term lease programs and has been tested by the NASA JPL program for navigating rugged, underground terrain.

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