6 major robot makers just pledged to make sure their robots aren’t used to hurt you

Will robots be armed to take over the world? The answer, at least for several robot manufacturers, is no.

Boston Dynamics and five other companies signed a pledge Thursday promising not to arm their general-purpose robots.

“We believe that adding weapons to robots that operate remotely or autonomously, are widely available to the public, and are able to navigate to previously inaccessible places where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues,” the companies wrote in an open letter, first reported by Axios.

Boston Dynamics was joined in the pledge by Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree. Other companies are encouraged to follow suit.

“We also call on all organizations, developers, researchers and users in the robotics community to make similar commitments not to build, authorize, support or permit the attachment of weapons to these robots,” the letter says.

The group cited the possibility of “untrusted people” misusing its products to “invade civil rights or to threaten, harm, or intimidate others.” They also pledged to carefully review how customers want to use bots.

The Boston Dynamics robots, which have attracted attention on social media for its choreographed dance routines and ability to perform parkour, have been touted for certain military uses, including remote inspection of dangerous environments, rescue operations or logistics operations, according to the company.

However, robots are typically sold for commercial and industrial use and for research. Police forces and fire departments also use the company’s robot dog, Spot, to send them to risky locations so they can figure out the situation.

The selling point for customers, according to Boston Dynamics, is that robots perform tasks better and more safely than humans. The company says the technology is not designed for surveillance or to replace human law enforcement officers.

Spot’s use in public has faced controversy before. In 2021, the New York Police Department canceled a $94,000 lease with Boston Dynamics for Spot after public outcry over privacy-aggressive shows of force by law enforcement. order

Boston Dynamics has a history of developing robots for the US military, landing a nearly $10 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2012. Google, SoftBank and Hyundai later invested in the ‘ company based in Massachusetts and pushed it to create robots for commercial uses, according to CNBC.

In the joint letter this week, Boston Dynamics and the other robotics companies said they are convinced that the “benefits to humanity” of their robots “far outweigh the risk of misuse.” However, they said they published the letter with a renewed sense or urgency “caused by a small number of people who have visibly gone public with their impromptu efforts to weaponize commercially available robots.”

According to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the pledge signed by the companies “does not rule out future cooperation or collaboration with the military or the defense sector.” Last year, the group cited Hyundai’s ownership of Boston Dynamics, pointing to the automaker’s development of unmanned weapon systems, tanks and other types of armored vehicles through its subsidiary Hyundai Rotem.

“This promise appears to apply only to ‘general-purpose robots with advanced mobility and related software,'” the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots wrote on its website after Thursday’s announcement.

In the joint letter, the robotics companies said they were not necessarily opposed to armed robots. They still see a use, but not by private citizens and companies. “To be clear, we are not concerned with existing technologies that nations and their government agencies use to defend themselves and uphold their laws.”

Last week, billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the electric carmaker’s prototype for its long-awaited new humanoid robot, named Optimus. Tesla did not sign the latest anti-armament pledge.

Another company that did not sign the pledge was Ghost Robotics, which partnered with the Department of Homeland Security in February to deploy robots that patrol the US-Mexico border.

When it comes to wars, there are no rules that prohibit the use of killer robots on the battlefield. Last year, a United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons refused to ban the use and development of so-called slaughterbots after objections from countries working on such technologies, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, according to CNBC.

Sign up for the Features of Fortune email list so you don’t miss our top features, exclusive interviews and research.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *