Just One Year Ago, Robot That Killed Suspected Dallas Shooter Was Used to Deliver Pizza

Human Rights

After using a robot to kill armed suspect Micah Johnson early Friday morning, the Dallas police were hesitant to release the robot's make and model, and justifiably so. Johnson is the first civilian to be killed by a U.S. police robot, which raises some ethical questions.

Manufacturers of similar bomb-disposal robots were quick to speak out against its use. A spokesperson for Pedsco, the president of RoboteX and a strategist of the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation all agreed that the Dallas Police Department's use of bomb robots for lethal attacks was unprecedented.

According to the Dallas Police Department's official statement released Friday, "The robot used was the Remotec, Model F-5, claw and arm extension with an explosive device of C4 plus 'Det' cord." But Dallas Police Chief David Brown clarified further. 

The robot used to kill Johnson was Remotec Andros Mark V-A1, "purchased in 2008 for roughly $151,000," Brown said in a news conference Monday. "The whole idea was improvised in about 15 to 20 minutes," he added. 

That's a far cry from last April, when a similar model of Remotec Andros referred to as a "bomb disposal robot" was used by police to transport pizza across the San Jose overpass to a man threatening to commit suicide.

"Over a five-hour period, California Highway Patrol officers had exhausted every trick in the book to try to stop the man taking his life, including sending officers to speak to him face-to-face and having trained negotiators attempt to talk him down through a tannoy system. It was then that they called on the mighty pizza," Metro UK reported

The Dallas Police Department also currently has access to MARCBots, which the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan began using in 2004. Their purpose? "Test the weight of objects that might be IED land mines," Defense Industry Daily said. So, if anything, the robot would be destroyed. 

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