Killer robot used by Dallas police opens ethical debate


In this case, it used its gripper to deliver a C4 explosive, which police detonated to kill the suspect.

Gizmodo (Michael Nunez) has some reactions to the news that the Dallas shooter was killed by a remote-controlled bomb-carrying robot (apparently a first in American policing).

It's believed to be the first time this technology has been used lethally on American soil. In hundreds of negotiations he used bomb-disposal robots dozens of times, often to communicate with barricaded and risky suspects.

Nine officers and two civilians were also injured when Johnson opened fire at a protest in downtown Dallas.

Jackson said he spoke personally to members of the Dallas Police Department Friday morning.

Although it is clear that the police used the robot because they were under a threat from a sniper, the move has resulted in a debate regarding how this may change the scenario for the future of law enforcement. Meanwhile, militaries around the world have come to rely on their robotic friends to disable improvised explosive devices - a need that only increased with the USA occupation of Iraq following its 2003 invasion.

This is sort of a new horizon for police technology.

"There's a very strong interest among law enforcement agencies in getting robots out there", Bielat said. Local law enforcement offices can obtain robots through the Defense Department's 1033 Program, which allows the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services to transfer leftover military equipment to local agencies.

Although this is the first time a robot was used against a human, bomb disposal units are familiar with a technique of using repurposed robots to deliver explosive devices. The U.S. military has sent remotely piloted drones to kill hundreds of people, including civilians, in counterterror attacks launched overseas since 2009, based on estimates released last week by the Obama administration.

They can also be used to place detonating devices near locked doors, for example, if officers are anxious about getting too close.

After James Boulware fired on police headquarters and exchanged gunfire with officers, police used an ordnance-disposal robot to confirm Boulware was dead and then check his armored van for explosives.

Such robots - which range in size from something as small as a dog bone to as large as a truck - are often just a mechanical arm mounted onto a vehicle and equipped with a video camera and two-way audio communications, according to William Flanagan, a retired deputy police chief from New York's Nassau County who now does law enforcement and technology consulting.

He said police commanders had 12 officers shot and needed to neutralize their attacker.

The most common police use, until now, was typified in a previous Dallas incident in June 2015. "Extreme emergencies shouldn't define the scope of more ordinary situations where police may want to use robots that are capable of harm".

So could a robot bomb be used in Austin?