Armed robots patrolling the streets? Although it looks like something out of a scene from Terminatorcould soon be the reality in San Franciscoone of the main cities of California.
The city, known for its progressive policies, has made a decision that many classify as conservative: allow police to use remote-controlled armed robots to patrol the streets.
The city advisory committee voted 8 in favor and 3 against of the measure, giving the green light to the implementation of the project. Although it was voted with the proviso that armed robots be used only in cases of extreme situations where human lives are at stake and there is no other option different to calm the situation, the reality is that this is a subjective assessment.
At a time when many police departments nationwide are under scrutiny for opposing issues – on the one hand crime rates in large cities have skyrocketed and on the other they are accused of excessive use of force -, California law requires its police departments to inventory their military-style equipment and seek public approval for its use. It is in this context that the armed robots came to the advisory committee.
San Francisco and Oakland These are the two California cities that have so far given the green light to the use of this type of robot. It should be noted that these are two of the cities where violence has grown the most in recent times.
Across the country, for more than a decade, police departments have used robots in hostage situations to communicate with attackers or in cases where there is a presence of explosives.
In the In 2016, the Dallas police were the first to kill a suspect using such a robot. They did so by sending a robot with explosives inside where a suspect was hiding after killing five police officers and wounding nine others.
The case was controversial at the time, but in the long run the Dallas police chief was mostly commended for how he handled the situation and his use of technology.
Although technology advances and the options today are much greater, the biggest debate in police departments is ethical and not technological possibilities.
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