Photo provided the the NY-Times article linked below.
Technology has improved various aspects of our lives to make life easier and safer. Specifically, in medicine and medical response, technology has played a crucial role in helping to enhance experience and safety for all involved.
With the increase in technological improvements, one area in the spotlight is emergency services and how we can reduce the risk for our responders. As many of us know, dogs are not only America’s favorite pet but also essential front-line responders. There is not much they can do between detecting COVID-19, seizing drugs, and being a part of EMS services. But the risks associated with these jobs are high for dogs and humans. To combat this risk, the NYC fire & police departments introduced robot dogs to eliminate the risk of dogs and humans getting hurt.
The New York City fire department recently invested 150,000 dollars into two 70 pound robot machines that can do the same tasks as human and K’9 emergency responders. The machines known as Spot will be used during some of the city’s most crucial search and rescue missions to reduce the risk of harm to humans and k’9s.
At the command of human controllers, these robots can provide crucial information in time-sensitive environments much faster and safer than alternative methods. These robots can be lowered underground to collect photos of the emergency area, gas leak information, and gauge structural integrity. Spot the robot gathers information and provides it directly to police/fire departments in searching for missing citizens, combating gas leaks, and other emergencies. Spot can also provide this much faster than human or k’9 alternative. While the fire department chief says that the only information collected will be related to hazardous material situations, citizens are worried about collecting personal information and the potential misuse or leak of this data.
Despite this fascinating new technology, many New York City citizens have raised concern about the funds being spent on Spot the robot dog instead of helping to improve housing conditions for the thousands of homeless citizens in New York. In addition to these concerns, many citizens felt that while dogs and humans may be in less danger, they may be more at risk of these robots collecting citizens’ sensitive data across the city. The NYC police department cut their contract short with the robot creators, Boston Dynamics, in response to these concerns. The NYC fire department has decided to continue to utilize the robots despite the public pushback.
This technology is some of the first of its kind that we see implemented at this level. While it seems to be a great use of technology, some think otherwise. While people may disagree on whether Spot the robot is helpful or hurtful, one thing is for sure, we will see more and more technological improvements such as this in the future.
- What are your thoughts on Spot the robot-like dog?
- Do you think the potential leak of citizen data is a valid concern?