The United States Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it is exploring the use of quadruped dog robots to patrol the country's southern border.

The use of quadruped dog robots on the United States’ southern border will lead to more deaths and devastation, a migrant rights group has said. 

The four-legged rugged robot dogs that weigh approximately 45 kilograms (100 pounds) will be used for border patrolling. It can wander autonomously or be controlled remotely. It will also send live video feeds to operators.

“We create the conditions forcing people into taking the journey here, and now we plan to meet them with robot dogs?” Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign director at Mijente, a Latino advocacy and migrant rights group, told TRT World on Thursday.

“This approach won’t keep anyone safe, it will merely lead to more death and devastation on the southern border.”

The United States Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on February 1 that, along with its Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), it is exploring the use of quadruped dog robots to patrol stretches that might be difficult for human agents to reach.

“The southern border can be an inhospitable place for man and beast, and that is exactly why a machine may excel there,” said S&T program manager, Brenda Long. 

“This S&T-led initiative focuses on Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles, or what we call ‘AGSVs.’ Essentially, the AGSV program is all about…robot dogs.” 

It can travel on all types of natural terrain, including sand, rocks, and hills, as well as stairs, According to Gavin Kenneally, the chief product officer at Ghost Robotics, an industry partner that develops advanced AGSV systems.

READ MORE: How 'killer robots' can alter the warfare and border control

The company made headlines in October when one of its robots had a remote-controlled sniper rifle (SWORD Defense Systems Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle or SPUR) at a trade show.

In an interview with TechCrunch last year, CEO Jiren Parikh said they have no knowledge about what the military will do with these robots.

“We don’t make the payloads. Are we going to promote and advertise any of these weapon systems? Probably not,” he said.

They also draw a line on where they are sold. 

“We’re not going to dictate to our government customers how they use the robots. We only sell to US and allied governments,” 

“We get lots of inquiries about our robots in Russia and China. We don’t ship there, even for our enterprise customers.”

The Homeland Security statement said that there are many types of illegal activity that happen in the harsh border zones.

“These activities can be conducted by anyone from just a lone individual, all the way up to transnational criminal organizations, terrorists or hostile governments - and everything in between, ”Agent Brett Becker of the CBP Innovation Team (INVNT) said. 

There’s no time frame for deployment of the robot dogs but the team is testing its functions in outdoor spaces. 

The US Border Patrol reported  more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the US-Mexico border in the 2021 fiscal year, the highest annual total on record, according to Pew Research center. 

From 2010 to 2019, an average of 3.5 deaths have resulted due to high-speed chases by the Border Patrol, according to the American Civil Liberties Union

There were 14 such deaths in 2020 and 21 in 2021. 

There have been more than 700 “use of force” incidents at the southern border in the last fiscal year, the agency said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing climate devastation, violence, and economies ruined by disaster capitalism have no choice but to come to the US border to seek a safe haven,” the senior campaign director at Mijente, Gonzalez, told TRT World. 

“Our response? Robot dogs. These tools of war must not be deployed.”

Source: TRT World