Bad dog! NYPD kennels its robotic K9 after backlash

A robotic dog from Boston Dynamics.
Daniel Reinhardt—Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Spot, a robotic dog used by the New York Police Department, is being sent to the farm.

The NYPD has canceled its $94,000 lease with Boston Dynamics for the robo-pooch following public outcry about privacy and overly aggressive displays of force, especially when dealing with poor communities. In the bot’s short career, it managed to creep out everyone from citizens to the mayor.

The lease was scheduled to run through August. The NYPD was evaluating the device’s capabilities, but John Miller, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told the New York Times that it had become a “target” for people making arguments about race.

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“People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil,” Miller said.

A spokesperson for Bill de Blasio said the New York City mayor took the other side of the argument and was “glad the Digidog was put down.”

Boston Dynamics has made a name for itself with its line of uncannily agile robots in the past several years. “Spot” was capable of opening doors and strong enough to help tow an 18-wheeler. The robot’s feats of strength only increased public suspicion of the device.

The robo-dog comes equipped with automated sensors and cameras that are capable of collecting data. Price tag: $74,000.

In March, New York City Councilman Ben Kallos introduced legislation that would ban the NYPD from using “weaponized robots.” The NYPD said robots have long been used for hostage negotiations and handling bomb scares.

Boston Dynamics told the Times there are roughly 500 robotic dogs in the field worldwide. Only four were being used by police departments.

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