A group of Latino U.S. House members recently expressed "extreme concern" about a plan to dispatch robot dogs along the U.S.-Mexico border, Axios reports. U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) are seeking a meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection about the robots. They say the term "robot dogs" is a "disingenuous moniker that attempts to soft-pitch the use of this technology ... [that] downplays the threat the robots pose to migrants arriving at our southern border and the part they play in a long history of surveillance and privacy violations in our border communities." They lawmakers said said they are concerned that the robot dogs will inevitably result in armed patrols and that they could critically injure, or even kill, migrants or U.S. citizens. Robots used in combination with drones, facial recognition technology and license plate readers, pose civil liberties risks, the members said.
A research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it had been working with the Philadelphia-based company Ghost Robotics for two years to develop a robot dog for the border. The "dogs" can transmit real-time video and other data to human operators while climbing over sand, rocks and hills. The Department of Homeland Security said the project is still in the research and development phase. The agency said the robots are not designed or being tested to engage with migrants.