They seem as though the humanoid robots made by Boston Dynamics have come out of a Black Mirror episode. The US company became famous for sharing videos where their robots can jump, stand up or run while a man tries to disturb them. Here’s an example.
If it’s just a video ar an article, the idea that robots can become part of our everyday life is still far away, but the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, has recently published some documents that show that the Massachusetts State Police has adopted Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robots for various operations.
Boston Dynamics has also made a statement explaining that they gave some of their robots to the police to keep watch on suspicious devices and dangerous locations. They are being used to prevent harm to human beings by sending them in the first line.
We’re talking about a four-legged robot called Spot, a sort of dog with a gripper arm in place of a head, useful for opening doors. This actually offers the possibility to replace men with robots for the above mentioned operations and, in the medium-long term, it can actually save lives and prevent a lot of damages.
Robots like Spot are not for sale at the moment, Boston Dynamics leases them with the “business to business” formula, not to private citizens.
Spot has an autonomy of 90 minutes, an HD video camera rotatable by 360°, reaches 5km/h and it’s not affected by filth and bad weather, it can open doors, climb the stairs and stand up after being knocked down.
It’s an innovation that will bring real advantages to man, especially police forces as it notably reduces risks associated with their job.
However, it’s hard not to think about our childhood and films like Robocop or contemporary tv series like Black Mirror, stories where robots live together with humans: drones fill up the sky, the police force is made of men and androids and the villain has weapons that can defeat robots thanks to powerful electromagnetic fields.
Spot makes us believe that the reality descripted in these sci-fi films is not too far away.