New York police dump controversial robotic dog

One of Boston Dynamics' robotic dogs in Lisbon during a tech summit in November 2019
One of Boston Dynamics' robotic dogs in Lisbon during a tech summit in November 2019

New York police will stop using a robotic dog similar to ones that inspired an episode of dystopian Netflix series "Black Mirror" after a backlash over its deployment, the force said Thursday.

The NYPD ended its contract with manufacturer Boston Dynamics over the remote controlled—four-legged machine, which police dubbed "Digidog"—on April 22, a spokesperson confirmed to AFP.

The force had rented the futuristic fido last year, with chiefs declaring that the AI device would help "save lives, protect people and protect officers."

The robots, the of which Boston Dynamics calls "Spot," are able to navigate tricky terrain and dodge obstacles as they collect information by photographing and filming their surroundings.

The NYPD sparked outrage when it tested Digidog during an arrest in a public housing building in Manhattan in February before using it in a hostage situation in the Bronx earlier this month.

Critics also said the robots illustrated the increased militarization of US police.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the dog as a "robotic surveillance ground drone" while the American Civil Liberties Union expressed fear that if unchecked it could one day make law enforcement decisions.

New York's counterterrorism chief John Miller told The New York Times that the dog would be returned to Boston Dynamics because it had become a "target" for people who criticized the .

The $94,000 contract was initially due to run until August.

"Black Mirror" creator Charlie Brooker has said that Boston Dynamics' robotic dogs influenced the 2017 episode "Metalhead" in which the main characters try to flee from violent four-legged robots following the collapse of society.

© 2021 AFP

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