Dutch police testing Spot robots to use in drug raids

The police in the Netherlands have started testing autonomous robot dogs developed by Boston Dynamics to examine drug labs during raids more efficiently and safely.

The Dutch police have already been using Spot, the robot dog, for drug raids and surveillance, but a handler would control it remotely. Now, the police are adding several new robot dogs to their force and are working on sending them on fully autonomous missions.

Spot will not replace real drug-sniffing dogs used by the police just yet – for the simple reason that it cannot smell. However, the robots could put human officers out of harm’s way. Criminals, dangerous chemicals, and explosions are just some of the risks the police have to consider when sending officers to raid drug labs.

“When the lab is in operation, and you stop it, it can explode. Normally, if people go in wearing protective clothing and that sort of stuff, but then they cannot move so fast, they can only work for 20 minutes,” Dutch police representative Simon Prins told New Scientist.

According to Prins, the police in the Netherlands have been testing and using different robots in criminal investigations for more than two decades, but the technology has only now become capable enough for practical applications.

Spot has seen many improvements since it was first adopted by the Netherlands police in 2021, including the ability to navigate various terrains and withstand extreme temperatures.

The use of robot dogs by law enforcement agencies has been controversial, with the New York Police Department scrapping the use of Spot after a public outcry following viral clips that were described as “creepy.”

However, other police departments continued deploying robot dogs. In one recent case, Massachusetts State Police have used robots, including Spot, to respond to an incident involving a hostile and armed suspect.

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