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World's leading robotics companies make pledge to not weaponise their robots

World's leading robotics companies make pledge to not weaponise their robots

"Robots should be used to help, not harm"

You don't need to fear the robot uprising just yet, as a number of the world's leading robotics companies have pledged not to weaponise their creations.

Amid the rise of technology, tools such as drones, sensors and communication networks have been increasingly adopted to assist in warfare.

The same goes for robots, with armies worldwide considering their use for various combat roles.

Already the idea raises concerns with regards to ethics, but these fears were exacerbated this year when a viral video showed a robot dog firing an assault rifle that had been attached to its back.

Ultimately, a number of major robotics developers, including Boston Dynamics, are strongly against the idea, as they say their technology is developed to 'help not harm'.

In an open letter to the robotics industry and their communities, Boston Dynamics, as well as Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree all discussed why 'general purpose robots should not be weaponised'.

They wrote: "As with any new technology offering new capabilities, the emergence of advanced mobile robots offers the possibility of misuse.

"Untrustworthy people could use them to invade civil rights or to threaten, harm, or intimidate others. One area of particular concern is weaponization.

"We believe that adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues.

"Weaponized applications of these newly-capable robots will also harm public trust in the technology in ways that damage the tremendous benefits they will bring to society.

"For these reasons, we do not support the weaponization of our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots."

The group also stressed the 'renewed urgency' to get this message out there after a 'small number of people' publicised their 'makeshift efforts to weaponise commercially available robots'.

Many robotics companies are against their creations being weaponised.
Alexander Atamanov

As well as pledging for their robots and supporting software to not be weaponised, they will also review their customers' intentions where possible to avoid this happening in the future.

Boston Dynamics shared a link to the letter in a recent blog post, while also stating: "Robots should be used to help, not harm."

Discussing the advancement of its mobile robot Spot and other models, the company said: "We understand that this rapidly advancing technology raises new concerns regarding the possibility of misuse.

"In addition to opposing weaponisation, we prohibit the use of our robots in any way that violates privacy and civil rights laws."

Boston Dynamics' robots have been designed to help (and dance).
YouTube/Boston Dynamics

Rather than being used to harm others, Boston Dynamics highlighted how its technology can be used as potentially life saving tools such as responding to hazards like nuclear and explosive threats.

In a statement to Axios, the firm's CEO Robert Playter said: "We are concerned about recent increases in makeshift efforts by individuals attempting to weaponize commercially available robots.

"For this technology to be broadly accepted throughout society, the public needs to know they can trust it. And that means we need policy that prohibits bad actors from misusing it."

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Featured Image Credit: Leo Schulz/Alto Press/Shutterstock/@bostondynamicsofficial/Instagram

Topics: Robotics, Technology, Military