Los Angeles, CA—The Los Angeles City Council voted today to accept the donation of a Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog, despite public criticism and concerns over surveillance and harassment. After an hour of public comment over the issue from L.A constituents, the city council voted 8-4 to accept the high-tech gift in the form of a “Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle.” The vote had been delayed for months by the City Council due to public backlash.
The donation was offered to the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division by the Los Angeles Police Foundation, and LAPD representatives say the device will be limited to specific situations such as SWAT operations, handling hazardous materials, and conducting search and rescue missions. However, skeptics remain unconvinced and worry about potential misuse of the technology in targeting and spying on marginalized communities.
Several previous delays in the L.A City Council’s vote on the LAPD robot dog, highlight the underlying controversy surrounding its implementation.
During the recent council vote, Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky introduced an amendment aimed at transparency and accountability regarding the deployment of the robotic dog. The amendment stipulates that the LAPD must provide quarterly reports detailing the device’s deployment, outcomes, and any issues arising from its use. By implementing this requirement, the council seeks to address concerns raised by the public and maintain a level of oversight.
The City Council has expressed its intention to closely monitor the activities of the robotic dog. They retain the power to modify the deployment policy or even suspend the device’s use if necessary.
Council members Heather Hutt, Curren Price, Nithya Raman, and Hugo Soto-Martinez voted against accepting the donation. Notably, Council members Eunisses Hernandez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson were absent from Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which could have potentially influenced the outcome.