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Video: New York City now deploying robot police dogs

April 12, 2023

The New York City Police Department is deploying robotic dogs for use in life-threatening situations, two years after the city previously canceled the move amid public outcry.

“Digidog is out of the pound,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. “Digidog is now part of the toolkit that we are using.”

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The Digidogs, manufactured by Boston Dynamics, would be used in situations like bomb threats, rather than on routine patrols, the New York Times reported.

“If you have a barricaded suspect, if you have someone that’s inside a building that is armed, instead of sending police in there, you send Digidog in there,” Adams said. 

Video published on Twitter by local reporter Juliet Papa showed Digidog walking and spinning.

The city is acquiring two of the robotic dogs for a total of about $750,000 using funds obtained via asset forfeiture, the Times reported. 

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They will join two other new technologies announced Tuesday. The first is a five-foot-tall “autonomous security robot” that can send intelligence to NYPD and will be deployed in the Times Square subway station this summer. The other is a device that can launch GPS trackers and attach them to vehicles.

The city previously leased a Digidog in 2020 and used it at least once to respond to a home invasion, as reported by the Times. The contract with Boston Dynamics was terminated following public backlash and a subpoena from city officials for records relating to the device, the Times reported.

In a statement, the nonprofit Legal Aid Society called NYPD’s new police gadgets, including the Digidogs, “dystopian surveillance technologies” that have been rolled out in “violation of basic norms of transparency and accountability.”

But Adams, the mayor, said he would not see Digidog’s history in New York City repeat itself.

“A few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back,” he said. “That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what’s best for the city.”