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San Francisco cancels killer police robots after backlash

San Francisco has shelved its plans for killer police robots, as city supervisors voted down the controversial policy Tuesday following widespread backlash. File Photo by Jordan Tan/Shutterstock
San Francisco has shelved its plans for killer police robots, as city supervisors voted down the controversial policy Tuesday following widespread backlash. File Photo by Jordan Tan/Shutterstock

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- San Francisco has shelved its plans for killer police robots, as city supervisors voted down the controversial policy following widespread criticism.

"In a complete reversal, the Board of Supervisors just voted for a military equipment policy that bans police from using robots to kill," board member Dean Preston tweeted Tuesday. "Thank you to all the residents and civil rights advocates who made their voices heard!"

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San Francisco's board of supervisors voted Tuesday to pause the program that would allow the city's police department to use 17 robots, armed with explosives, to kill people in "potentially deadly force situations," such as suicide bombings or active shooter situations.

"Robots could potentially be equipped with explosive charges to breach fortified structures containing violent, armed or dangerous subjects," a spokesperson for SFPD said, adding that the robots would be used only to "incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed or dangerous subjects who pose a risk of loss of life."

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The decision to table the controversial killer robots comes one week after the city approved the plan by a vote of 8-3 on Nov. 29. The board of supervisors has faced fierce criticism since the vote from civil liberties groups who protested outside San Francisco's City Hall.

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Hilary Ronen, is one of three supervisors who originally voted against the measure.

"I'm surprised that we're here in 2022. We have seen a history of these leading to tragedy and destruction all over the world," Ronen said at last week's meeting.

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"We just stopped the use of killer robots in SF. Complete reversal from last week. Common sense prevailed," Ronen tweeted after Tuesday's vote.

While the robots are banned from uses to kill, the SFPD can use the machines to check out dangerous situations, while officers stay behind.

The board will now send the plan to a committee for further review.

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San Francisco is not the first city to consider killer robots. The military arsenal is already in use in other parts of the United States.

Police in Dallas, Texas, used a robot armed with explosives in 2016 to kill a sniper who killed five officers and injured several others.

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