Killer robots still sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but the development of such automatic and deadly robots is now a reality thanks to companies like "Boston Dynamics" (owned by Google, among others).
A main area of application for killer robots is said to be wars and other armed conflicts, but cities in the USA also want to use them in normal, civilian areas against suspects and criminals. One of the newest districts: San Francisco, actually known for flower power and hippies.
The local "Board of Supervisors", a kind of city council, has now decided that the police may also use robots that are able to kill people "in extreme situations". According to the city police authority SFPD, such robots are not yet in use. However, according to the BBC, there could be "future scenarios" in which "a robot could use deadly force".
The robots are to be armed for use with explosive charges. According to the police, these could help to “penetrate into fortified structures where violent, armed or dangerous people are located” – but also put “violent, armed or dangerous suspects” out of action if they pose a risk to life.
Incidentally, killer robots are not entirely unknown to the police in the USA: As early as 2016, the police in Dallas, Texas, used a robot to kill a sniper. The sniper had previously killed two officers and injured others. At the time, the robot was armed with C-4 explosives.
Critics like Dr. Catherine Connolly from the campaign group "Stop Killer Robots" fear that the use of robots leads more quickly to frivolous decisions in difficult situations: they fear that deadly violence will be used more quickly.
Sources: BBC, arstechnica