"This is not playtime. This is real time."
New York recently deployed a robot dog to the scene of a catastrophe to uncover a body— and according to the city's unpopular mayor, this dystopian factoid is good, actually.
In a press conference, New York City Mayor Eric Adams hailed the FDNY's Boston Dynamics-developed and Dalmatian-painted "Digidog," which last week uncovered the one person who died in a Lower Manhattan garage collapse, as an exciting example of next-generation law enforcement technology.
"Some people call them toys," Adams said. "This is not playtime. This is real time. And this is an administration that is not going to be fearful of using everything possible to save the lives of New Yorkers and to save the lives of first responders."
The @FDNY has a new robot dog and they painted it like a real firehouse dalmatian which makes it looks less dystopian, in my view. pic.twitter.com/1KoQGB3HxY
— Bonnie Smalley (legacy blue checkmark) (@Bonniezilla) April 18, 2023
While the robot dog did indeed uncover the body of a person killed in the garage collapse, this horn-tooting is by no means unprecedented, and was the second time this month that Adams took to his mayoral pulpit to laud the expensive innovation that freaked so many people out when the NYPD used it that literally had to cancel it before this latest rebooting of the program.
"Digidog is out of the pound," Adams said during a press conference in Times Square earlier in April. "Digidog is now part of the toolkit that we are using."
"A few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back," Adams said in that pre-collapse presser. "That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what's best for the city."
Those "few loud people" were apparently weirded out when the NYPD began trotting the expensive digidogs out back in 2021, before Adams was elected. Before it was "put down," the robot was even used in the arrest of an armed subject, which, yes, is a pretty freaky concept.
Adams noted later in his most recent robodog-boosting speech that the FDNY's Dalmatian-spotted version, named "Bergh," is proof of what New York can do if only the city refuses to kowtow to haters.
"We've... allowed other municipalities to outpace us and to out-use technology because we were concerned about the small number of people who are afraid of change," the mayor said. "We are not. We will use this to benefit and safeguard the people of the cities."
That's one way to respond to people concerned about legally-sanctioned robots roaming the streets of New York.
More on NYC robots: Researchers Pleasantly Surprised That Only One New Yorker Attacked Their Cute Trash-Collecting Robots