Robots with a license to kill: that’s the proposal from the San Francisco Police Department, which has called for machines to be allowed to be used “as a lethal force option when there is a serious risk of death to citizens or police officers.”
The original version of the proposal did not include any reference to the use of “deadly force” by robots until Aaron Peskin, dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, added that “robots should not be used as a use of force against any person.”
An addition not liked by the SFPD, which returned the draft with a red line erasing Peskin’s addition, replacing it with a concession to be able to beat suspects to death. According to Mission Local, Peskin decided to accept the change because “there may be scenarios where the use of deadly force is the only option.” The San Francisco Rules Committee unanimously approved the draft version, which will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 29.
San Francisco police currently has 17 remotely piloted robots, but only 12 are functional. In addition to granting the robots the ability to use deadly force, the proposal authorizes their use for “training and simulations, arrests of criminals, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, execution of a warrant, and evaluation of suspect devices.”
While most of the robots listed in the inventory are used primarily for defusing bombs or dealing with hazardous materials, newer Remotec models have an optional weapons system, and the F5A has available a tool called a PAN disruptor that can load 12-gauge projectiles. The QinetiQ Talon can also be modified to hold various weapons: a weaponized version of it is currently used by the U.S. Army and can equip grenade launchers, machine guns, and even a .50-caliber rifle.