On April 12 an emotionally disturbed man barricaded himself in his 14th floor apartment in Kip’s Bay, but he wasn’t the only one garnering all the headlines.
The NYPD pulled out all the stops to prevent 41-year-old Luis Gonzalez from hurting himself and others. Responding officers deployed shields, assault rifles, German Shepherds, a tarp to catch the man if he were to jump from his apartment, and a convoy of police cruisers.
However, it was one remote-controlled, four-legged robot dog that set the internet on fire as it was recorded strutting into 344 East 28th St. on Monday afternoon.
According to police sources, the machine is called a “Digidog” and is currently in the testing phase. The device utilizes artificial intelligence to logically navigate its environment. Moreover, the 70 lb. robot is fixed with multiple cameras and lights mounted to its back, which allow the NYPD to view its surroundings in real time. The device is also capable of two-way communication.
— Melanie Aucello (@AucelloMelanie) April 13, 2021
While police say the Digidog was on standby and was not utilized during this incident, it did wow onlookers in-person and online.
Mixed feelings circulated Twitter’s comment section from New Yorkers who either approved or disapproved of the futuristic machine. Melanie Aucello, the president of 344 East 28th Street Tenant Association President, who recorded a video of the robot entering her building, was one of its detractors.
“The decision to deploy militant tactics to a RAD/PACT building when someone needed medical attention and emotional assistance was unnecessary and shocking. Our BIPOC community is a scapegoat and guinea pig for all in power. They block our access to the criminal justice system at every turn. This was meant to intimidate us and show their power,” Aucello told amNewYork Metro.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the debate, telling the New York Daily News, that “I haven’t seen [the video of Digidog], but I certainly share the concern that if in any way it’s unsettling to people, we should rethink the equation.”