NYC Police Cancel $94K Robot Dog after Activists Complain Investment Should Go to Schools

It was just in February of this year when we did a story here at about a new “digidog” being employed for possibly the first time in a criminal interaction with NYC police. If you recall the viral video of the futuristic dog — seen patrolling a Bronx neighborhood after officers responded to a hostage situation — sparked controversy.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who then called it a “robotic surveillance ground drone,” praised activists in her district who pushed back on the tech to demand that police funds should instead go toward investments like school counseling. Well, once again the voice of the people has been heard by authorities.

According to’s Emma Bowman, the dog has been pulled from service. The police canceled a $94,000 contract with the robot’s maker Boston Dynamics following a backlash tied to calls to cut the police budget and concerns of police militarization and abuses of force.

Although first hailed as a police crime-fighting tool that would go places humans shouldn’t go, it has fallen from favor in a big way.

“This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that’s our goal,” NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit Inspector Frank Digiacomo had said in an interview with the local ABC station.

But after the public and some local pols were made aware of the “digidog,” the fur began to fly. It is a 70-pound mechanical beast and it wasn’t cheap either. That’s where the biggest outcry came from. It was the cost of the dog that really had people barking. Even Mayor Bill De Blasio chimed in.

“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers.”

Digidogs Defenders

The Boston Dynamics four-legged robot dog does have legitimate crime-fighting capabilities which should be obvious to most people.

John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, defended the department’s use of the robot in an interview with The New York Times this week. The Digidog keeps officers out of harm’s way, he said, and it’s cheaper and more advanced than the robots the force has used in the past.

Miller said that the department had previously sought to test the device until its contract was up this August. But plans changed, he said, after the robotic dog became a “target” in arguments over race and surveillance.

While technology is experiencing the type of rush and economic wave that washed over the world in the Industrial Revolution, it is still a tough job for some people to accept that technology. And with the U.S. still in such a 50-50 mindset on everything from money to politics to technology it will take a while yet before the Golden Age of Technology can really begin to improve the state of the modern world. And for now, at least, it will have to be without digidog’s help in policing New York City.