Tuesday, November 29

Boston Dynamics speaks out about the robots they have modified with weapons

The new functional robots are a danger to populations that are at war or defenseless. That is why the main companies in the sector have asked the international authorities to stop arming their products designed for civilian use.

Boston Dynamics, the dog company robotand other companies in the sector have pledged not to weaponize their products, according to an open letter published Thursday and published by Axios.

The letter focuses primarily on unauthorized public misuse of its products. In the letter, entitled “General Purpose Robots Should Not Be Weaponized”, six companies express their concern about the “risks of harm and the serious ethical problems” derived from the armament of its products.

For their part, robot makers write: “We pledge not to weaponize our advanced mobility general-purpose robots or the software we develop that enables advanced robotics, and we will not support others in doing so“.

It’s been a big impact year for improvised robotic weapons. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, news of makeshift bombers made from DJI drones has gone around the world.

The open letter seems to indirectly address these recent media developments, saying: “we feel growing concern in recent months caused by a small number of people who have visibly publicized their efforts to weaponize commercially available robots“.

Civilian robots should not be armed, is the message

The fact that the letter focuses specifically on the “general purpose advanced mobility robots” leaves room for the interpretation that they do not mess with their products intended for law enforcement.

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Rather, they refer mainly to the public use of “widely available” robots, as is the case with Spotand calls for government regulation: “We ask policy makers to work with us to promote the safe use of these robots and ban their misuse“.

Boston Dynamics had already supplied robots to police forces for unarmed usesparking an alarming reaction in New York City last year, even though the company’s contract with the New York Police Department prohibited using the Spot robot as a weapon.

At this point, the letter establishes an important exception to its commitment: “To be clear, we are not opposed to existing technologies that nations and their government agencies use to defend themselves and enforce their laws.“.

All this means that companies, such as Boston Dynamicsthey reserve the right to create weaponized kits for sale to law enforcement, but are against buyers modifying robots into weapons.

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