NEW YORK - The NYPD is returning the robotic dog it was testing to its manufacturer following backlash over the militarization of police and the possibility of weaponizing other technology like drones in the future.
The department had used 'Digidog' in several calls including to clear a crime scene in the Bronx in February.
The 70-pound robotic dog manufactured by Boston Dynamics came equipped with cameras, lights, and transmitters which allowed the NYPD to view its surroundings in real-time. The dogs cost an estimated $74,000.
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The sudden termination reportedly comes after a video of the dog patrolling a housing project in Manhattan went viral.
State Senator Brad Hoylman represents the district where the incident took place. He thought deploying the robot dog anywhere undermined police-community relations but especially in a public housing complex where residents might already mistrust the police.
"They deserve policing that is humane and human," Hoylman said.
On Thursday, police confirmed reports that the bot dog would not be used anymore.
"The contract has been terminated and the dog will be returned," the NYPD said in a statement to FOX 5 NY.
The NYPD says it has used robots in hostage and hazmat situations for four-plus decades.
"This allows the police department to function with minimal risk to officers involved," John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and 26-year veteran of the NYPD Keith Taylor told FOX 5 in February, "and the tactical value of that is immeasurable."
Taylor spoke to the future potential of this technology. Hoylman wanted to see the money, time, and energy spent on the robot redirected into efforts to build better trust within the community.
"Budgets are a statement of values," Hoylman said, "and when the NYPD deploys a $75,000 surveillance toy ..."