For many years, the police have used dogs for various tasks. As a rule, they do their job without much publicity. However, September 6, 1969 was an exception. At that time, the Schalke soccer professional Friedel Rausch was bitten on the buttocks by a police dog during the ongoing district derby against Borussia Dortmund. However, the incident had no major consequences: Rausch received a tetanus shot and continued to play. The North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Interior, Herbert Reul, did not have to be afraid of a spontaneous bite in the past week. Because he was standing in front of a new generation of police dogs: In the future, the robot dog Spot, developed by the company Boston Dynamics, will also support the police in North Rhine-Westphalia. The innovation was appropriately presented at the opening of the newly created Innovation Lab of the police in North Rhine-Westphalia. There, experts from various disciplines deal with the future of the police force.
In the Innovation Lab, the skills are to be adapted in a targeted manner
On the one hand, new technologies are to be developed here to support the hunt for criminals. At the same time, however, it is also a matter of examining existing innovations and seeing to what extent they can be used for police operations and what adjustments may have to be made. This is where the robot dog Spot comes into play. Because this was not specially designed for use by the police, but has a number of versatile skills. In the newly created Innovation Lab, these are now to be made specifically usable for daily police work. As a result, details of the planned operations have not yet been communicated. The minister only spoke in general terms of possible uses in disaster areas or at dangerous crime scenes. It is therefore unlikely that the robot dogs will soon be patrolling the streets and coming into direct contact with the population.
Interior Minister #Reul at the opening of the Innovation Lab about the dog-like walking robot Spot: “Nobody said we urgently need it now; but we are testing here in which areas the robot could be of use to us in the future.” @landnrw pic.twitter.com/5snN0gRVop
— Ministry of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia (@IM_NRW) January 19, 2022
The use of robotic dogs is not without controversy
A certain restraint in the use of the new technology could well be appropriate. Because the first tests in the United States were anything but successful. The New York police have since ended the collaboration. In the US metropolis, the use of robot dogs was heavily criticized. Among other things, because they are said to have been increasingly used in neighborhoods inhabited by minorities. In fact, civil rights activists also criticize that the robot dogs with their 360-degree cameras could theoretically be used to increase surveillance of the population. According to information available so far, such a thing is not planned in North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to the police, the military is also showing interest in the new technology. The Bundeswehr has already dealt with the use of robotic dogs. The French army, in turn, conducted tests in which machines took over dangerous reconnaissance missions.