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Boston Dynamics robot dog back on the beat with NYPD

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the city has acquired two of Boston Dynamics' "Spot" robots, which the NYPD calls “Digidogs.” They will be used in assessing bomb threats or hostage situations and won’t be equipped with weapons.NYC Mayor's Office

After a two-year suspension, Boston Dynamics’ four-legged Spot robot is back on duty with the New York Police Department.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this week that the city has acquired two of the machines, which the NYPD calls “Digidogs.” They will be used in assessing bomb threats or hostage situations and won’t be equipped with weapons.

During a 2021 tryout with the NYPD, the Digidog helped police deal with a home invasion in the Bronx. The machine’s onboard camera let police confirm that the suspects had fled the scene, without putting any officers in the line of fire.


Despite this success, the city abandoned the test, in response to a torrent of complaints. Some city residents said that the animal-like machines were intimidating; others worried that the robots would pose a threat to privacy if used to patrol city streets.

During a press conference Tuesday, Adams suggested that the administration of his predecessor Bill de Blasio was too quick to bow to public pressure.

“A few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back,” Adams said. “That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what’s best for the city.”

In fact, Adams is doubling down on tech. He also announced trial deployments of Knightscope K5 patrol robots, slow-rolling machines that conduct mobile video surveillance in subway stations and other public areas. The NYPD is also going to test StarChase, a system that lets police cars fire a GPS tracker that clings to suspicious vehicles. The StarChase system is designed to let police find fleeing suspects without having to chase them at high speed through crowded city streets.

Boston Dynamics issued a statement praising New York City’s redeployment of its robots. “We are pleased with the NYPD’s transparency and that the use policy outlined by city officials today reflects our commitment to the responsible use of our technology,” the Waltham-based company said.


Boston Dynamics also noted that the Spot system has been deployed with police agencies worldwide, including the Massachusetts State Police, as well as police forces in Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at Follow him @GlobeTechLab.