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Armed Police Bots with Stun Guns 219

Posted by Zonk
from the we-don't-serve-their-kind-here dept.
foniksonik writes "'On 28 June, Taser International of Arizona announced plans to equip robots with stun guns ... the new stun-capable robots could be used against civilians.' Non-lethal weapons experts are concerned that the robots will have to stun the suspected criminal for longer periods of time while awaiting human police to come make the official arrest. "If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?" asks Steve Wright, a security expert at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK."
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Armed Police Bots with Stun Guns

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  • Wellllll... (Score:5, Funny)

    by stonecypher (118140) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rehpycenots>> on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:37AM (#19786355) Homepage Journal

    "If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?"
    Skynet.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2007 @02:57AM (#19786795)

      "I'll be back... for the appeal."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by susano_otter (123650)

      "If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?"

      So a company in America says they're going to try mounting tasers on robots, and before the first prototype is even built, and long before the first police department decides to evaluate them, some guy on the other side of the Atlantic is worrying about who to sue, if the robots ever get used in his country?

      Besides, isn't the answer obvious? You sue the organization or individual who decided to deploy the robot

    • "If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?"

      So a company in America says they're going to try mounting tasers on robots, and before the first prototype is even built, and long before the first police department decides to evaluate them, some guy on the other side of the Atlantic is worrying about who to sue, if the robots ever get used in his country?

      Besides, isn't the answer obvious? You sue the organization or individual who decided to deploy the robot

  • .....acting the way they are and getting into trouble where they need to be stunned in the first place :P
    • by kabz (770151)
      Wow, I've often thought that it would be much faster to board planes if you had little robots that could detect people loitering in the aisle and taser them in the ankle to get them to move into their row faster...

      Heheh. Zap!!
      • Taser International of Arizona announced plans to equip robots with cattle-prods... the new airline customer assistants robots could be used to help passengers board planes more efficiently.
    • ED209 says ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:53AM (#19786461)
      [Mr. Kinney points a pistol at ED-209]
      ED-209: [menacingly] Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply.
      [Mr. Kinney drops the pistol on the floor]
      ED-209: [ED-209 advances, growling] You have 15 seconds to comply.
      [Mr. Kinney tries to run away]
      ED-209: You have 10 seconds to comply.
      [entire room of people in full panic trying to stay out of the line of fire]
      ED-209: You have 5 seconds to comply... four... three... two... one... I am now authorized to use physical force!
      [ED-209 opens fire and shreds Mr. Kinney]

      From the movie Robocop.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Nazlfrag (1035012)
      Indeed. Bleeding hearts like to call Taser recipients 'victims', but I tell you, if they were innocent they wouldn't be tasered now, would they?
  • pretty funny.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328)
    To me this s pretty funny. Has anyone seen the bot they use in the bomb squad? I mean if you put a machine gun on that thing even a dog in a wheel chair would be able to get away in time. I think that things like this are not really effect as an actual combat or police platform in terms of hitting your target, but rather provide a heavy scare factor. I can imagine that most people would see it and thing terminator and run like hell rather then walk briskly past it and just push it over which is all it would
  • Target acquired... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mystery00 (1100379)
    It's a bad day to be a criminal, and soon the police force will be out of a job. Robotaserthing is in town, and ready to electrocute some scum.

    On a more serious note, it's not like this was unexpected, and it's not the first of the line either. We're smack right in the middle of the robotic era, from mini automated vacuum cleaners, to hover spy robots, to shotgun equipped killing machines. This is just another step, and it's not going to end, ever.



    Well......it could end for us, but not for the robot
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hobbesmaster (592205)
      I seriously doubt these things are actually autonomous, given that theres no source in the article and I was under the impression that bomb squad robots are remote controlled. Upon further inspection at Taser International's website shows that this is a "strategic alliance" with a robotics company that may lead to "...remotely controlled or autonomous robotic systems..."

      Now, I may be behind on things, but what autonomous robot systems, if any, are in use today with law enforcement? From my knowledge of el
      • Who needs an offensive weapon on robot? Has nobody here seen the Dark Angel series or the movie Runaway? Sheesh geeks today...

        People we are talking Jessica Alba here (the only think that makes the Fantastic Four films worth seeing) Dark Angel had several episodes about them. They are a staple of William Gibson Cyberpunk stories. Enough prior art to gag a hippo so no patent needed.
    • This is just another step, and it's not going to end, ever.
      I'd much rather fight against robots than other people.

       
      • by ross.w (87751)
        Indeed.

        Take out a policeman that's attacking you - Murder charge and the hatred of every policeman who misses his buddy.
        Take out a taser wielding robot that's attacking you - property damage charge.

        Please note for all the profiling bots - I do not necessarily advocate either of the above. Really
        • by paganizer (566360)
          Got a old microwave oven your not using, a car, and a portable generator? zap, no more robot overlord. some minor waveguide work required.
  • Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lixee (863589) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:44AM (#19786405)

    "If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?"
    The idiots that allowed a robot in the police force.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Hopefully, they'll be smart enough to realize that robots are a tool, just like hand held tasers, guns, ect., and not an intelligent, thinking crowd control panacea, and treat them as such. Besides, I don't think armed robots roaming the streets would fly with a whole lot of folks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sfm (195458)
        Don't worry, nothing can go wrong... go wrong... go wrong... go wrong...
      • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @07:38AM (#19788167) Homepage Journal

        Besides, I don't think armed robots roaming the streets would fly with a whole lot of folks.

        A long time ago I heard about a survey of bank customers who preferred automatic teller machines to human tellers because the computerised version is friendlier.

        Now, cops are not known to be friendly, in fact, many problems arise when they depart from established procedures and start setting policy, rather than enforcing it.

        I would say that a robot which is programmed to respond in a particular way would do so all the time. The real problem comes when Government finds out that robot police are so cheap they can put one every ten metres along every street in the city. That would worry me. Probably worth pointing out that while speed cameras pay for themselves we don't have millions of the things on the roads yet, at least where I live.

        As long as we can trust our governments to want to stay popular, they might continue to use technology appropriately. I hope so, anyway.

      • by jimicus (737525)
        Then I am really fscking scared of what will happen when this idea takes off in the UK. They already consider speed cameras to be a perfectly reasonable alternative to traffic police.
        • Yes, but speed cameras ARE a perfectly reasonable alternative to traffic police. Unless, for some reason, you think you have a right to get away with -putting other drivers in danger- most of the time. It's not a privacy issue because you're already in public by virtue of being on the road, and if it were a privacy issue, then police would also infringe by enforcing traffic rules.

          If you think the traffic laws themselves are unjust, you should strike those rather than their enforcement, as unequal or imper
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jimicus (737525)
            It's not that I have a problem with the speed limit being enforced. But speeding isn't the only thing which is dangerous.

            Speed cameras don't do anything about the Corsa which cut me up at 70mph on the motorway yesterday. Speed cameras don't stop the motorist who was all over the lane while yakking on his mobile phone. They don't stop the tailgating motorist who caused an accident which (thankfully) didn't look too serious but could have been far worse.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      But they will be shielded by shifting the blame to the company that produced the robot, or others who also took part in the decision. Like with electronic "voting" machines in the U.S., the failure will take years to correct, if at all.
    • by fatman22 (574039)
      The idiots who forgot that a robot does not enjoy the same legal and moral "shield" that a human police officer has. Shoot back (or first) at a human police officer and it's serious jail time or the needle. Do the same to a cop-bot and it's, at most, destruction of public property and illegal discharge of a firearm or explosive device in a prohibited place. I see a big market for RPGs.
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:48AM (#19786429) Journal
    Cops that can be neutralized with a refridgerator magnet! (Hey, it works on Bender!)
  • by had3l (814482) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:49AM (#19786435)
    Can they stunlock or are there diminishing returns?
  • civilians arming themselves with stinger missiles and radio jammers
    • Too much work, just use a sticky note and slap a

      HACK ME
      sign on their backs. This will happen faster then you can say ROBOT WARS.


      • After seeing a video of a sentry bot with a machine gun onc, I'm not looking forward to further developments in this field:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5YftEAbmMQ [youtube.com]
    • Slightly thicker jacket will do the job. Then all it takes to kill the robot is a gentle push.

      Tell you what. I'll get worried about robots when they develop flinch reactions.

       
  • There really has to be a good Ed-209 [wikipedia.org] joke in here somewhere.

  • by Joebert (946227) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @01:56AM (#19786487) Homepage
    Anyone want to bet me that this project gets scrapped in less than a year due to "malfunctioning" bots that zap officers more than civilians ?
    • With over 75 deaths from stun guns in the four years before 2005, it seems these weapons can be lethal. If the recipient has a heart condition, or is on stimulants, there is a significant risk of death from the taser. Very little research is being done on the use of tasers on people, but it is somehow considered 'safe' - seemingly by mere assumption.
      In my research, I found this article: Prehosp Emerg Care. 2006 Oct-Dec;10(4):447-50 "Taser use in restraint-related deaths."
      You can search pubmed [nih.gov] for this art
  • why not just (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sh3l1 (981741)
    Why not just have the bots detain people instead of arming them with something that could seriously injure or kill someone (heart-atacks, etc.)
    • by rtb61 (674572)
      At the end of the day, a guard is a pretty poorly paid job. I would think it would be cheaper to pay guards than buy bots and pay the insurance on those bots.

      A hackers dream, hacking a guard bot, would it be an inside job if a electronic guard bot stuns every body and robs the place. As for restraining people, yeah, set off a smoke detector and the bot has to let you go or else in the event of a fire you could get roasted innocent victims.

      Now I wonder who will be guaranteeing the quality of the software

    • Non-lethal restraint is what your talking, That's spray webbing which even with a skilled shooter can block airways.

      Netting, which is kinda one shot and what if they got a knife? (most likely)

      Or some sort of Tentacles. The artist of Hentai are obsessed by tentacles and with robots? I don't think we need to go any farther with this. My spider sense are tingling already. (opps thats not my spider sense)
  • Is this the same Steve Wright who bought some batteries, but found that they weren't included?
  • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @02:23AM (#19786649)
    Why only worry about "autonomous robots"? Even remote-controlled robots with stun guns would worry me. Anything that would make it easier for a cop to hurt someone without looking into the whites of their eyes would worry me.
    • by westlake (615356)
      Why only worry about "autonomous robots"?

      Where does it say that these robots are autonomous?

      Computerworld [pcworld.com] describes them as remote cotrolled.

      Even remote-controlled robots with stun guns would worry me. Anything that would make it easier for a cop to hurt someone without looking into the whites of their eyes would worry me.

      The cop is wearing a face plate and body armor. The cop doesn't see the whites of your eyes.

      So you would rather be taken out - permenently - by the S.W.A.T. team sniper or emerge f

  • Why do police always stick out like sore thumbs ?

    Uniformed officers are easy enough to avoid, I can only imagine how many episodes of Americas' dumbest criminals are going to be based on criminals dumb enough to get anywhere near these robots.
  • 0. Obtain a Stunbot3000 (capture it in a box or net and place it in a Faraday cage that provides sufficient electromagnetic shielding to keep it from communicating with it's legal owners wirelessly)

    1. Hack Sunbot3000, preferably installing Linux or BSD on it.

    2. Program it to shock corrupt cops, Christian fundamentalists, members of the Bush administration, corporate executives, and other undesirable figures. Perhaps speech to text and a bit of grepping could be enough to determine who is/isn't an undesirab
  • 3 Laws (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kramulous (977841) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @02:47AM (#19786757)
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    Isn't this a violation? Oh, wait. It was human programming.
    • The Fourth Law is the most important: "Any attempt to arrest a senior OCP officer^W^W Republican party member results in shutdown".
    • Asimov's laws are really nice, but I don't see law enforcement agencies or authorities turning to a sci-fi novel for guidance. Let's face it, the UK authorities don't pay much attention to George Orwell's 1984 ....

    • by Cheesey (70139)
      These laws seem to presuppose that the robot will have a human-like mind that is capable of understanding concepts like "injure", "inaction", "human being" and "harm". Asimov was being optimistic about the ease of making an AI that was even capable of understanding these ideas, let alone applying them to the real world. Still, sci-fi would be very dull if it wasn't full of wild ideas and crazy predictions.
  • Robot insurance [youtube.com] doesn't seem so silly now, huh?

    I'll be darned if they use my per-scrip-shun drugs for fuel! (Medicare "D" was just a ploy!)

    --
    Toro
    • "Old Glory Insurance, for when the metal ones decide to come for you....and they will."


      Truer words were never spoken.
  • At this point, the robots aren't going to be 100% autonomous, the amount of AI that would imply is staggering. The robots will have to be controlled by humans. Most likely, they'll be more along the lines of an RC device, like most police robots are now. For example bomb robots many large police forces have are basically just large RC units. They actually could be used to do quite a bit of harm to someone, their grips are usually very strong. As such it falls on the shoulders of the person operating it.

    Same
  • by ls671 (1122017) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @03:08AM (#19786855) Homepage
    Can I buy one to beat up people that don't pay ?
  • by jon287 (977520) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @03:21AM (#19786937)
    ...what have you got to be afraid of? Malfunctioning police robots with giant killer tasers?

    Oh... wait...
  • In Capitalist West expensive robot stuns you.
    In Soviet Russia buggy robot source code stuns you.
  • If someone is severely punished by an autonomous robot, who are you going to take to a tribunal?

    Does it matter? the IPCC will exonerate everybody anyway, like they always do.

  • First of all, these things wouldn't be autonomous, as the summarization says. That's according to UberGizmo [ubergizmo.com]. That takes care of who to hold responsible for excessive use of force.
    Secondly, I find it interesting that according to the official announcement from Taser International [taser.com], this is coming about as part of a "strategic alliance" with iRobot, the company who's building robots for the military. According to Taser Int'l, "This combination of capabilities will allow law enforcement, federal, and milita
  • by Jartan (219704) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @04:34AM (#19787349)
    I'd be very hesitant to have robots with tasers running around but I think it's fair to point out there might actually be some really positive aspects to this.

    Cops have caught a lot of flack lately for over aggressiveness and in a lot of those cases the reason is the cop has to be aggressive is to protect himself. With a robot we can let it basically do totally suicidal things to try and subdue the suspect without harming him.

    Also cops can be intimidating when it's not necessarily good to be intimidating. If a big guy with a gun and a nightstick comes after you then your fight or flight responses kick in and you might start acting irrationally. If a weak robot without weapons attempts to arrest you it could lead to much more calm thought and actions on both sides of the fence. Of course thats assuming the suspect to be arrested would act rationally in the first place.
    • by HiThere (15173)
      Armed with a taser isn't being "without weapons", it's being armed with a "torture until done" weapon. That's a part of the reason why people react so strongly against them. They will *probably* not kill a person chosen at random. They *WILL* inclict torture on them. How badly depends partially on where they hit. So does the presence or absence of permanent disability.

  • Robots or Waldoes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday July 08, 2007 @04:53AM (#19787417) Journal
    If they plan to allow a machine decide whether to taser somebody, expect this idea to vanish in a blinding plasma cloud of litigation. If they're talking about a human being operating this device by remote control, then whoever's at the switch is on the hook legally for any claim of excessive force, especially since the operator wouldn't be in any danger (the usual excuse of an overzealous police officer.)

    -jcr

    • If they plan to allow a machine decide whether to taser somebody, expect this idea to vanish in a blinding plasma cloud of litigation.

      Think of it as an electric fence, without the fence.

    • by wordsnyc (956034)
      whoever's at the switch is on the hook legally for any claim of excessive force, especially since the operator wouldn't be in any danger

      Good luck with that. The identity of the operator will be classified under Homeland Security regulations. Just try to identify the operators of the surveillance drones now appearing over your city.
      • by jcr (53032)
        The identity of the operator will be classified under Homeland Security regulations.

        Courts trump regulations, which is why we know the name of Lon Horiuchi [wikipedia.org], for example.

        -jcr
  • I, for one (Score:5, Funny)

    by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @04:58AM (#19787443)
    Do NOT welcome our new taser-bearing robot overBZZZZZZTT Gaaaah!
  • It's going to be decades before robots are able to stand up to a human bare handed, never mind with something as simple as a stick.

     
    • It's going to be decades before robots are able to stand up to a human bare handed, never mind with something as simple as a stick.

      I think what you're saying is that robots aren't intelligent enough to stand up to an unarmed, or nearly unarmed, human being. Now that's true, if you put them on nearly equal terms physically. On the other hand, there's no reason to do that, just like in a video game where the machine's AI offsets it's own relative stupidity by creating opponents that shoot faster or more ac
      • by Colin Smith (2679)

        Taking an extreme case, suppose you took an M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and set it up to run autonomously (or fitted it out for remote control.) Hell, you'd have something resembling one of Keith Laumer's Bolos if you did that. In any event, a bare-handed human wouldn't stand much of a chance as the robot ground him up beneath its treads. Human beings have physical limits, but you can scale up a machine as far as you like.

        I'd put money on unarmed humans winning a war against semi-intelligent automated or even remotely controlled battle tanks. Tanks only work because they're backed up by humans. Out on it's own it's dead.

        Stick or not, if you saw that thing coming, what would you do?

        Watch. Ambush. Tank trap.

        Hell, people aren't durable or particularly smart either.

        Show me a machine which lasts 70 years. Human bone is stronger and lighter than concrete and human intelligence is a normal distribution, we have genius as well as stupidity. To top it off we can communicate. We're the top predator on the planet (by far) despite being smaller, slow

      • by ross.w (87751)
        All you have to do is solve the enormous backpack problem.

        Develop Technology that allows you to carry a machine gun, a shotgun, a rocket launcher, a grenade launcher, a railgun and ammunition for all of these, all while jumping and running like a champion athlete.

        Also develop technology that allows you to instantly treat any injury by merely swallowing a special package.

        Then all you have from what you're describing is a boss level.
  • In California, they don't use robots, they use the Governor.
  • Local recruitment agencies reported a surge in demand for taser robot service engineers. Said a spokesperson: "Yes, we have seen the demand for service engineers quadruple straight after the UPS module was introduced. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to establish if this is the result of a module defect or something else, as of yet no engineer has returned our calls. As a matter of fact, they haven't cashed their paychecks either".

    Spokespeople for the employer sited a "surge in demand" as the mai
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Sunday July 08, 2007 @07:57AM (#19788269) Journal
    Last month a Texas Ranger (state police, not ball club member) fired a taser at a guy who had just poured gasoline all over himself. The spark set off the gas and fried the guy. The ranger is is trouble because he should have known better. Even if he hadn't seen the gas can he could have smelled the gas.

    I'm betting these robots won't be able to smell gas. That's just one situation and limitation. Everything they can't do that a person can is a possible problem.
  • Why does "Terminator, Rise of the Machines" come to mind? Or is it iRobot?

    This year it is robots with tazors, next year, we get Robots with AI.

    Maybe something should just not be done. Maybe this will make people obey traffic laws. We could use a few around here to keep the bicyclists off the sidewalks, pedestrians from j-walking, and red-light runners, as these are against the law.

  • As shown in 'I Robot', when a robot kills a person, it is an 'Industrial Accident', not murder, so why bother using a taser? Use a shotgun...
  • Hmm, the UK police should add shotguns to their talking, panning, tilting, eavesdropping cameras. That will bring the public crime rate way down, really quickly.
  • To see the new One TaserBot Per Citizen (OTBPC) project. That little guy, following you around with his taser, zapping you for jaywalking... it's just going to be awesome. Nobody will commit felonies like copyright infringement ever again!

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