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Here’s a unique “first” for the history books: In March 2023, a four-legged robotic “dog” walked into the line of fire and took three bullets. Its name was Roscoe. And Roscoe’s actions likely saved human police officers.

Boston Dynamics is one of the world’s leading robotics companies. So it’s not shocking that the Massachusetts State Police are testing out some of the very first law enforcement robots. The state police’s bomb squad in particular has already pressed multiple remote-control robots into service.

One of the most advanced models is a four-legged robot capable of climbing up and down stairs. It has a fourth limb, a long robotic arm it can use to open doors or even dismantle some bombs. Finally, it has cameras so remote operators can see what’s going on. The bomb squad named this robotic “dog” Roscoe.

A yellow robot opens a door.
Spot robot | Boston Dynamics

On March 6th, the bomb squad responded to a standoff at a house in Cape Cod. The SWAT team had been in a standoff with an armed suspect. They wanted to take him in to custody, but didn’t know where in the house he was hiding. So the officers decided it was a job for remote-controlled Roscoe.

Roscoe entered the house and searched the main floor. He found no signs of any occupants. Next, he climbed the stairs and searched the second floor. Still nothing. So next Roscoe’s operators searched for an entrance to a basement. When they found one, they sent the dog downstairs. He was attacked immediately.

The suspect kicked Roscoe over. Little did he know, Boston Dynamics’ robots can right themselves. When Roscoe got back up, the suspect shot him three times. This disabled the robot’s communication. The suspect continued to shoot wildly, hitting another bomb squad robot and an outdoor pool.

A yellow robot with four legs walks through a cave.
Spot robot | Boston Dynamics

The SWAT officers didn’t leave Roscoe behind. Once they knew where the suspect was they were able to deploy teargas to stun him and rush the house to arrest him.

Boston Dynamics says it is taking Roscoe back to study how well he stood up to the gunfire. But they will give the Massachusetts State Police a replacement robot.

“The incident provided a stark example of the benefits of mobile platforms capable of opening doors and ascending stairs in tactical missions involving armed suspects…In addition to providing critically important room clearance and situational awareness capabilities, the insertion of Roscoe into the suspect residence prevented the need, at that stage of response, from inserting human operators, and may have prevented a police officer from being involved in an exchange of gunfire.”

Massachusetts State Police

Next, learn about why the NYPD fired its subway-patrolling robot, or see Boston Dynamics’ robot in action in the video below: