LAPD Now Sicking Robot Dogs on Suspects

MikeDotta /
MikeDotta /

The early morning hours of November 8th saw some of Americans’ worst Terminator-based fears come to life. As a bus rolled through Los Angeles and into Hollywood around 3:45 a.m., a man was spotted asleep with a gun at his feet. Quickly, the bus came to a stop at the intersection of Melrose and Western Avenues. After getting the driver and all passengers off, the LAPD took over.

At 4:45 (nearly an hour after the gun was spotted at the sleeping man’s feet), the LAPD and their SWAT division took over the scene. With the man seemingly asleep as the officers tried communicating with him, they chose to send in their robotic police dog. Affectionately called “SPOT,” a Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle robot was used to guide the man off the bus around 6:30 a.m.

Witnessed by onlookers circling the bus and moving around, the movements were similar to the level of anxiousness to get to work that is commonly seen with police dogs. According to officers, the dog was mostly used to identify any potential risks with the suspect, who had already surrendered. Remotely controlled by a SWAT team member, the dog can respond quickly and allows officers to get a better appraisal of the situation without putting themselves or the suspect at risk.

Running the LAPD $278,000, these aren’t the kind of tools every police department can expect to have any time soon. If anything, this is incredibly specialized at this price point. While a human is still ultimately responsible for the control of the robot, many wonder how long it will be until AI takes this over, too.