It’s not a zombie apocalypse but it could be the next best – or worst – thing, depending on your point of view, but one thing is for certain: The robots are coming, and with them new laws that will undoubtedly be utilized to protect them.
According to the Chillicothe Gazette, a Gannett-owned Ohio newspaper, a 62-year-old man, Michael Blevins, who was heavily inebriated was recently arrested for shooting (but not killing) a police robot following a six-hour stand-off.
The report said that officers in the town of Waverly initially responded to a complaint that shots had been fired inside a bedroom at a home, and that the homeowner had a number of guns and was threatening neighbors.
Police knocked on the front door of the home, called on the telephone and even brought in a trained negotiator in an effort to make contact with Blevins, but he refused to speak to anyone for hours. At that, officers decided to contact the Pike County Sheriff’s Department as well as the state Highway Patrol’s Strategic Response Team for help. They got a pair of search robots instead.
Attack of the drones?
The first robot to enter the Blevins’ home was camera-equipped. Its mission was to locate the man and his guns. A second, larger robot was then sent inside, but when Blevins spotted that machine, he opened fire on it with a small caliber pistol, damaging it.
After all that, police finally entered his home and used a simple stun gun to subdue and arrest him.
Later, after obtaining a search warrant, cops found several firearms in Blevins’, including a pair of AK-47-style, semi-automatic rifles and a 75-round ammunition magazine, an item that is illegal to own in Ohio.
Following an evaluation by medical doctors and mental health professionals, Blevins was charged with two felony counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance and vandalism of government property, among other charges, the local paper reported.
The use of robots by the military has grown exponentially over the past decade. They are utilized as bomb-sniffing devices and for other counter-IED missions in Afghanistan and were used is similar capacities in Iraq before U.S. troops pulled out.
And just as the military has replaced a lot of missions that can be harmful to soldiers with robots, civilian authorities are doing the same for certain dangerous situations, to protect officers. Other technologies being used by police are alarming, however: They include automated license plate readers; taser cameras; face ID scanners; facial recognition software; and drones. Robots are only the latest high-tech device employed by police.
In fact, reports David J. Hill at SingularityHub.com, another Ohio police department last fall was showing off a recently acquired $11,000 AVATAR surveillance robot from a firm called RoboteX; its mission is assisting the department’s SWAT team.