Sun. Sep 24th, 2023
    Massachusetts Proposes Bill to Ban Weaponized Robots

    Massachusetts state senators have introduced a groundbreaking bill that would make it illegal to manufacture, sell, or use robots with mounted weapons. The bill also includes provisions to prevent law enforcement or others from using robots to threaten or physically restrain individuals. The proposed legislation aims to establish public trust in the use of robotics by law enforcement.

    The bill, which has garnered support from major robotics manufacturers like Boston Dynamics and rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), emphasizes the need for strict oversight and regulations surrounding the use of weaponized robots. Supporters argue that such robots pose a significant threat to safety and basic rights.

    If passed, the bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before deploying a robot onto private property. Violators of the bill’s provisions could face fines ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. While the bill primarily applies to robots used or deployed in Massachusetts, it could potentially serve as a model for other states seeking to implement similar restrictions.

    This legislation comes at a time when the use of robots by law enforcement is becoming increasingly prevalent. Recently, San Francisco lawmakers faced public backlash when considering the use of explosive-equipped remote-controlled drones. Similarly, New York City police terminated a contract with Boston Dynamics after the company’s Spot robot was seen alongside officers outside a public housing unit. However, Massachusetts’ bill includes exceptions for bomb squad officials using robots to disable explosives and does not apply to the US Department of Defense or companies testing anti-weaponization technologies with a waiver.

    The proposal by Massachusetts state senators seeks to curb the weaponization of robots and promote public trust in law enforcement’s use of robotics. With the state being a hub for advanced robotics innovation, passage of this bill could set a precedent for other states grappling with similar concerns.


    – Massachusetts Senate Bill No. 1474

    – “Massachusetts lawmakers propose banning robot guns” – The Verge

    – “Massachusetts Proposes Bill to Ban Weaponized Robots” – Futurism