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Boston Dynamics and rivals agree to ban weaponized robots

Marc Raibert, left rear, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, watches one of the company's Spot robots during a demonstration in Waltham, Mass.Josh Reynolds/Associated Press

Robotics maker Boston Dynamics in Waltham and five other robotics firms signed a letter pledging not to add weapons to their automated or remotely controlled devices.

“We pledge that we will not weaponize our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots or the software we develop that enables advanced robotics and we will not support others to do so,” the companies wrote in a letter they made public on Thursday.

The companies also called on other robotics companies, researchers, software developers, and policymakers to agree not to weaponize robots.

“We are convinced that the benefits for humanity of these technologies strongly outweigh the risk of misuse, and we are excited about a bright future in which humans and robots work side by side to tackle some of the world’s challenges,” the six companies wrote.

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Boston Dynamics has sold its non-weaponized robots to military and law enforcement organizations, which use them for dangerous assignments like removing potential explosives. Still, videos of its dog-like Spot robot and human-like Atlas robot have drawn comparisons to dystopian robots from science fiction.

The other companies that signed the letter were Agility Robotics in Oregon, ANYbotics in Switzerland, Clearpath Robotics in Canada, Open Robotics in Silicon Valley, and Unitree Robotics in China.


Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.