SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco supervisors voted Tuesday to halt a controversial policy that would allow police to use robots for deadly force.
The oversight board voted unanimously to explicitly ban the use of robots in this way for the time being. But they have referred the issue to a committee for further discussion and may allow it in limited cases at another time.
It’s a reversal of last week’s vote allowing the use of robots in limited cases. Police said they did not intend to arm the robots with firearms, but wanted to be able to put explosives on them in extraordinary circumstances.
Last week’s approval sparked backlash and criticism over the possibility of deploying robots capable of killing people.
Some supervisors said they felt the public did not have enough time to engage in the discussion of the possibility of using robots to kill people before the council’s first vote last week.
The vote was the result of a new state law that requires police departments to inventory military-grade equipment and seek approval for its use.
The approved policy gives police the authority to use robots for situational awareness, such as entering a dangerous situation first so police can stay behind.