San Francisco’s Killer Police Robots are now On Hold Following Fierce Public Protest

San Francisco’s supervisors decided on Tuesday, Dec. 6, that the controversial killer police robots must remain on hold following an intense outcry from the public, according to a report by AP.

The supervisors recently gave the green light to a policy that would allow the police department to use potentially lethal robots to kill “threats” on the spot.

But now, San Francisco is pushing back from this move after drawing fierce criticisms for the militarization of such robots.

(Photo : WOLFGANG KUMM/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)
People take part in a demonstration as part of the campaign “Stop Killer Robots” organised by German NGO “Facing Finance” to ban what they call killer robots on March 21, 2019 in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. – The campaign to “Stop Killer Robots” is a global coalition of 82 international, regional, and NGOs in 35 countries that asks for a ban on lethal fully autonomous weapons.

Unanimous Decision

The Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to prohibit using robots in extreme cases for the time being.

However, they referred the matter back to a committee for more deliberation, which means that the proposed policy could still take effect in the future if the supervisors eventually vote for it. 

The police agency stated that it had no plans to equip the robots with guns, but instead wanted them to be deployed with explosives and utilize them to disarm dangerous suspects. 

But this proposal did not resonate well with other people. AP reports that dozens of demonstrators rallied in front of the City Hall on Monday, including three supervisors who had opposed the policy from the very start. 

The protestors echoed the same sentiment: reverse the board’s decision in allowing the police to use these lethal robots. Their call appears to have not been in vain since the supervisors ultimately decided to put the proposed policy on hold.

Read Also: San Francisco: SFPD’s Armed Robots Given Permission to Deal Deadly Force to Assailants, Kill on Site

New State Law

One of those who rallied at the City Hall was Supervisor Dean Preston, who informed his colleagues on Tuesday that there was not enough time given to the public to express their concerns on such a crucial matter.

The vote was the outcome of a new state law mandating police agencies to inventory their weaponry, such as specific firearms, grenades, armored vehicles, etc., and obtain explicit authorization before using these weapons.

AP said that Oakland and San Francisco are the only States that have considered to use of lethal robots in line with this law.

Oakland’s police department wanted to deploy robots with shotguns but was ultimately met with fierce public opposition as well, prompting them to cancel such plans.  

Officials who supported the policy earlier argued that the decision to use killer robots in extreme cases will not be reversed. That is until the supervisors unanimously voted to proceed with their decision.

However, police officers will still be allowed to use robots in harmful scenarios so that it does not endanger their lives. 

Related Article: NCU’s ‘Butterfly Bot’ is a Soft Robot Capable of Swimming Fast Speeds, Inspired by the Manta Ray


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