For the first time in the history of American law enforcement, the Police department in Dallas has used a bomb-carrying robot to kill someone.
City police chief David Brown told the media that officials saw no other option to avoid any further danger after sniper fire killed five Dallas officers. Brown said the decision protected police officers on a night when their lives were at greater risk than usual.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Brown added.
This is not the first time a robot designed with other functions in mind has been used as a weapon, but this kind of repurposing has until now been limited to the military.
Peter Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation who writes about the technology of warfare, said he believed this was a first. “There may be some story that comes along, but I’d think I’d have heard of it,” he said. Singer also said that he was “in no way, shape or form condemning” the DPD’s (Dallas Police Department) decision.
The “bomb robot” used is assumed to be the DPD’s bomb-disposal unit, a wheeled, remote-controlled (as opposed to autonomous) robot with a manipulator arm on top. “When there’s a suspected explosive device, a suspected IED, you have this device with a robotic arm and a gripper on it,” Singer explained.
Dallas police have not identified the kind of robot used nor whether the explosive was improvised or something the department had long planned for an emergency.