PODCAST: Developing policies for cops using robots with lethal force

Welcome to Episode 101 of The Robot Report Podcast, which brings conversations with robotics innovators straight to you. Join us each week for discussions with leading roboticists, innovative robotics companies and other key members of the robotics community.

In this episode we discussing San Francisco’s voting around its police department being able to use robots with lethal force in emergencies. After initially voting 8-3 in favor of cops using robots with lethal for as a last-ditch effort, San Francisco supervisors reversed course on Tuesday and unanimously voted to temporarily ban its police department from using robots with lethal force. The issue is being sent back to a committee for further discussion and could be voted on again in the future.

After last week’s 8-3 vote, I spoke to Paul Scharre, vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security. He previously worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) where he played a leading role in establishing policies around unmanned and autonomous systems and emerging weapons technologies.

In the interview, Paul details his work at the OSD and describes the process they went through to develop policies around the aforementioned issues. Paul and I dive into what’s going on in San Francisco and how to improve the process of debating, developing and implementing policies around arming police officers with robots with lethal force in emergencies. Paul also shared his thoughts on how the robotics industry might better help with these types of issues going forward.

Links from today’s show:

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.