San Francisco police want approval to use robots with lethal force

The San Francisco police department has requested use of robots capable of dealing “deadly force” in high-risk scenarios.

A policy document obtained by The Verge document showed the department’s plan for its platoon of 17 robots in the future.

According to the proposal, the department wants to use them for “training and simulations, criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant or during suspicious device assessments”.

The US Army has already implemented robots capable of loading and firing weapons in combat, including grenade launchers.

Police propose lethal force be used by the robots “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD”, claiming the frightening new technology would help officers with “ground support and situational awareness”.

According to US reports, the original version of the draft did not specify the use deadly force until a member of the city’s board of supervisors said “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person”.

The document has been approved by San Francisco’s board of supervisors’ rules committee and currently awaits the decision from the full board next week.

A San Francisco police department spokesperson said cops didn’t have “any sort of specific plan in place”, claiming the use of deadly force would be “rare and exceptional”.

It came after Western Australia introduced a similar police robot in 2022. The four-legged machine, named “Spot”.

The machine’s “handler” Blair Moulton said the technology was “intuitive” and would allow officers to access places less advanced robots cannot get to.

“By using a quadruped system, it allows it to move over a variety of terrains which is off limits to the track or wheeled robots,” he said.

The world‘s first operational police robot was deployed in Dubai in 2017.

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