Updated: Feb 24
Massachusetts State Police was officially the first police department in the US to test the use of Spot the Robotic Dog from Boston Dynamics. The robot was used by the department’s bomb squad for various non-weaponized purposes from August to November this year, mainly remote inspection of potentially dangerous environments. In addition to being used for testing, the bomb squad used Spot in two different ‘incidents’. Boston Dynamics says Spot is durable with an IP54 rating and the ability to operate in temperatures ranging from -20C to +45C however, the battery pack limits it usage to less than an hour we believe. The robot dog features 360-degree vision made possible by stereo cameras, as well as an arm with a payload capacity of 31 pounds (14 kg). As part of its agreement with Boston Dynamics, the robot could not be weaponized, its use was entirely for helping protect humans from potential harm. However, even with the assurances around the use of Spot this time has raised concerns over the potential use of intelligent robots by law enforcement going forward and in particular when it comes to the potential of using of weapons. Boston Dynamics which was bought by Japan’s Softbank in 2017 has leased a number of Spots out in the last few months to various organisations in order to gauge market interest and allow customers to find their own applications for the robot with the aim of eventually commercializing Spot and other robots in the future.