NYPD Fires Robodog
Following public outrage in response to videos posted on social media featuring a robotic “dog” being used by the New York Police Department, authorities have announced that they will discontinue its use.
According to the New York Post, a spokesperson for the department said, “The contract has been terminated, and the dog will be returned.”
Last month activists took to social media to decry the use of Boston Dynamics’ robot, nicknamed Digidog, by police after a video depicting the device’s use during a New York City arrest went viral. In the video a handcuffed suspect can be seen being led away by police followed by Digidog and its controller.
Twitter users were quick to point out that the robot was designed to help scientists and researchers explore dangerous areas and gather inspection data, not take part in urban crime-fighting. This means that the robot had many tactical vulnerabilities that would make it incredibly simple to disable. Users posted schematics of the robot, informing others how to cover its visual sensors, release its battery by pulling a single lever and other ways to disable Digidog.
The department said it planned to use the robot for reconnaissance in dangerous situations. “This dog is going to save lives, protect people and protect officers,” said NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit Inspector Frank Digiacomo last year.
After seeing the video, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead. Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city should “rethink” using the robot, and the city council subpoenaed the NYPD for any contracts with Boston Dynamics in an attempt to see exactly how much was spent on Digidog. The council found a contract for $94,200 and ordered it canceled.
Following the decision Mayor de Blasio told reporters that he was “glad the Digidog was put down.” A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said, “It’s creepy, alienating and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers.”
New York lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban the use of weaponized drones or robots for policing in the state.
Traveling Teddy Bear Finishes Trip
A man has completed his 480-mile hike from Los Angeles to San Francisco while wearing an oversized teddy bear costume.
The journey began on April 12 in Los Angeles after Jessy Larios decided to hike the freeways to San Francisco dressed as “Bearsum,” a teddy bear character he created. Last week he completed the trip at the Golden Gate Bridge, ending his trek on April 24—a full 12 days after he left. His arrival was met with fanfare from onlookers who gathered to wish him well as he crossed the finish line.
Larios completed the trip carrying only his phone, some toiletries, socks, a flashlight and cleaning supplies for his costume. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that the inside of the suit smelled unpleasant by the end of the hike. “Like when you first open a bag of Doritos, and that fart smell comes out,” he said.
The giant teddy bear camped on the side of the road, reportedly only sleeping for four hours at a time. He was offered a free room at a Best Western along the way, but he refused, accepting the offer of a shower in its stead. He only took two other showers along the hike—both at truck stops—but maintained his hygiene with sponge baths in gas stations.
Larios was able to raise nearly $18,000 through online donation sites. He says he plans to donate the funds to charity and has asked his social media followers to vote on a proper recipient.
Cow and Alligator Block Traffic in Separate Incidents
Drivers in Houston, Texas, were left waiting when a cow and an alligator shut down traffic in two separate instances on the same day last week.
USA Today reports that police were called to investigate reports of a loose cow on the highway. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted that a livestock unit was en route to the scene. “A pedestrian is currently trying to rope the cow,” he reported. “There has been one crash possibly related. No injury to cow.” The livestock unit was able to wrangle the cow with the assistance of the animal’s owner.
A few hours later drivers in the nearby suburb of Baytown were forced to call police when an alligator wandered out onto a one-lane bridge and stopped traffic there. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officers were called to the scene to move the animal. They reportedly placed a rope around the alligator’s neck and taped its mouth shut before loading it onto a truck and releasing it under the bridge.
Man Builds Poop Wall
Following a dispute with his neighbor, one Michigan man decided to build a wall made of feces to separate their properties.
According to FOX2 in Michigan, Wayne Lambarth says his neighbor built the 250-foot poop wall in Lodi Township out of spite. He says the two have been arguing for the last year over a property line that splits the 100-year-old farm that Lambarth’s grandfather developed. “Normally they spread it on the field, but they decided to make a fence out of it,” said Lambarth.
The wall’s odor is reportedly very offensive, and neighbors have reported the farmer who built it. Lambarth currently rents the land to tenants, and they have been complaining. But town authorities say they can’t interfere, because the farmer built the wall on his own property and isn’t breaking any laws.
When reporters approached the wall’s builder, he said it wasn’t a “poop wall.” “It’s a compost fence,” he said. When reporters told him his neighbor didn’t like the wall, the man reportedly mumbled an unintelligible remark regarding the price of milk before excusing himself from the conversation.