NYC councilman bans ‘weaponized robots’ to avoid possible violence


  • A new bill in New York City bans Robocops to use weapons.
  • Councilman Ben Kallos argued that it could harm people.
  • He added that the funds for these devices could be for better use.

No weapon should be engaged with NYPD robots.

Although it remains unknown if New York City has purchased or considered purchasing armed robots, Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) expressed his disapproval of using “weaponized” robots, with a new city council bill banning Big Apple cops to have weapons.

“The bill says that you can’t weaponize robots in a way that can harm people,” Kallos told The Post on Sunday. “It’s one thing to use a robot to defuse a bomb, but it’s another thing to weaponize a robot for interacting with people.”

Police “use guns when their life is in jeopardy and that is all,” Kallos argued. “If there’s a robot involved, there’s no human life to protect and therefore it doesn’t need to be weaponized in the first place.”

Kallos, who introduced the legislation last week, further said that NYPD’s recent use of unarmed “Digidog” to sniff out a Bronx home incursion could foreshadow future intrusions into robo-policing.

The Democratic lawmaker further argued that “People are already concerned about militarizing police, and this is stopping them before they get any further.”

Kallos added that the police department has not disclosed the cost of Digidog, and pointed out that instead of investing too much in robots or drones, the city should “get back to the basics of investing in people and giving people the resources they need.”

“Lord knows how many school seats we could pay for with the cost of one of these,” he added.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also shared the same sentiment, arguing that the money spent on these devices could be of better use.

Professor Patrick Lin of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo also raised the same concerns and highlighted the possible violence these robots can perform which could be unmanageable.

“Nonlethal robots could very well morph into lethal ones. Robots can save police lives, and that’s a good thing. But we also need to be careful it doesn’t make a police force more violent,” Lin said.

Meanwhile, an NYPD rep told Wired that the department “has been using robots since the 1970s to save lives in hostage situations and hazmat incidents.”

The Digidog “is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against other models in use by our Emergency Service Unit and Bomb Squad,” the rep said.

The city bill is co-sponsored by Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.

Source: New York Post

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