NEW YORK (WPIX) – The New York City Fire Department recently acquired two new dogs, but they’re not Dalmatians.
Instead, they are two robot dogs.
Spot Explorer, created by Boston Dynamics, will be used by the FDNY (officially the Fire Department of the City of New York) to “perform investigations that would be too dangerous for members to enter,” an agency official said.
“This system is capable of the mitigation of a chemical dispersal device, radiological debris and will deploy relatively quickly ahead of Haz-Mat responders in these situations to gather useful data for response,” according to the FDNY.
The department already uses some tracked and wheeled robots, but Spot is especially good at working on rough and uneven terrain, according to the FDNY. It also works well on subway train tracks.
The two Spot robots will be operated by the FDNY Command Tactical Unit, officials said. Each one costs $75,000. Training in using them has begun.
The NYPD previously came under fire for its use of a similar device. Last year, the NYPD’s use of a robotic dog prompted elected officials to criticize the police department’s surveillance equipment, while police maintained that the department had done nothing wrong.
Local officials had complained the acquisition of the robot police pup – called Digidog – violated the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act, which requires the NYPD to list surveillance tools and uses.
The NYPD said in a statement to WPIX at the time that the robot dog was “being tested for use in hostage, terrorism bomb and hazmat situations.”
FDNY Capt. Michael Leo told the New York Times that robots would save lives, contrary to what some people believe.
“The TV industry and the movie industry are hurting us in some ways because they often show pictures of robots that are weaponized,” he told the New York Times, “and then people think that’s how all robots are.”