Boston Dynamics *actually* does not want you to add weapons to its robots

Enlarge / Herbert Reul, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, appears at Boston Dynamics’ robotic police canine in January 2022.

Boston Dynamics and a number of other different robotics corporations have pledged not to weaponize “general purpose robots” in accordance to an open letter launched publicly on Thursday and first reported by Axios. Although with sizable caveats in place, the letter focuses totally on unauthorized public misuse of their merchandise.

In the letter, titled “General Purpose Robots Should Not Be Weaponized,” six corporations (Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Boston Dynamics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics, Unitree Robotics) spell out considerations about “risks of harm and serious ethical issues” from the weaponization of their normal goal merchandise, fearing that it’ll “harm public trust in the technology.”

For their half, the robotic producers write, “We pledge that we will not weaponize our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots or the software we develop that enables advanced robotics and we will not support others to do so.”

It’s been a high-profile 12 months for improvised robotic weapons. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, information of makeshift bombers made from off-the-shelf DJI quadcopter drones and munitions have made the rounds on social media. And in July, a extensively circulated hobbyist video of a Unitree dogbot with a gun strapped to its again stirred up fears of “dystopian nightmare” within the press. On YouTube, you can discover a number of movies of individuals imitating the stunt in different situations.


An unauthorized video of a gun bolted onto a $3,000 Unitree robodog spread quickly on social media in July.Enlarge / An unauthorized video of a gun bolted onto a $3,000 Unitree robodog unfold rapidly on social media in July.

Alexander Atamanov

The open letter appears to not directly deal with these latest media occasions, saying, “… we now feel renewed urgency in light of the increasing public concern in recent months caused by a small number of people who have visibly publicized their makeshift efforts to weaponize commercially available robots.”

The letter’s particular deal with “advanced-mobility general-purpose robots” leaves room for interpretation relating to specialty robots designed for warfare or legislation enforcement, which the pledge does not cowl. Instead, it primarily considerations public use of “widely available” robots, and calls for presidency regulation: “We call on policymakers to work with us to promote safe use of these robots and to prohibit their misuse.”

Boston Dynamics beforehand equipped robots to police forces for unarmed makes use of, inflicting a backlash in New York City final 12 months, though the agency’s contract with the New York Police Department prohibited utilizing the Spot robotic as a weapon. On this level, the letter carves out a large exception to its pledge: “To be clear, we are not taking issue with existing technologies that nations and their government agencies use to defend themselves and uphold their laws.”

You can learn the total assertion on the Boston Dynamics web site.


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