NYS Assemblyman Clyde Vanel and Senator Jeremy Cooney Introduce NYS Responsible Robotics Act to Ensure the Safe, Ethical, and Productive Use of Robots in Response to Recent Viral Videos

New York – Last week, New York State Assemblymember Clyde Vanel and Senator Jeremy Cooney introduced A10374 (Vanel)/S9439A (Cooney), legislation that would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or operation of robotic devices or drones that are mounted with a weapon in New York State. New York could be the first state in the nation to enact this type of legislation that will protect the public while building confidence and trust in the future of robotics technology.

The legislation would establish criminal offenses for the weaponization of robots while allowing lifesaving uses by law enforcement. The bill comes in response to videos circulating online of robotic devices being equipped with weapons such as automatic rifles and flamethrowers. The United States Department of Defense and its contractors, law enforcement officials disposing of explosives, and roboticists working to prevent or mitigate robotic weapons, are exempt from the penalties created by this bill.

To enhance the public’s confidence in the use of these beneficial technologies by law enforcement officials, the bill also makes clear that a warrant is required when a robot enters private property in place of a human officer, except in exigent circumstances, and also requires that information about their use is made available to the public.

“I am a firm believer in the future of emerging technology like robotics to improve people’s lives and create jobs, but we must ensure that public safety is protected in the process. I’m thrilled that industry and advocates are coming together to support this legislation.” – NYS Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, Chair of the NYS Assembly Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology

“I want to ensure that we’re embracing new technology, while still making sure we’re putting in place common-sense safeguards. This legislation is an important first step to establishing that robotics can play a part in our society without sacrificing public safety.” – NYS Senator Jeremy Cooney

Advanced mobile robots are amazing tools that are already helping people, making workplaces safer, and saving lives, but efforts to weaponize general purpose robots threaten public trust and acceptance of this emerging technology. We are proud to have worked in collaboration with Assemblyman Vanel and Senator Cooney, drawing on our discussions with the robotics community, civil rights stakeholders, and law enforcement representatives, to help develop this thoughtfully-tailored legislation.” - Brendan Schulman, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations at Boston Dynamics

"The New York Robotics Network is proud to support the Responsible Robotics Act, which will help ensure the safe and responsible application of robotics to help our world rather than cause harm. Our organization was recently founded by a team with over 100 years of combined experience in the robotics and advanced technology ecosystem, and we look forward to advancing the future of robotics technology in the New York Metropolitan area and throughout the world.” – Jacob-Hennessey-Rubin, Executive Director, New York Robotics Network

"Robotics, drones, and other uncrewed systems are bringing immense value to the Empire State and are poised to bring even more in the future with widespread acceptance from the public and adoption by safety agencies. AUVSI is proud to support this legislation, and we thank Assemblyman Clyde Vanel and Senator Jeremy Cooney for their leadership in supporting the safe, ethical, and responsible use and development of robotic technology."- Scott Shtofman, Director, Government Affairs at the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)