On Tuesday November 21, 2023, MassRobotics joined Boston Dynamics and AUVSI in testifying before the Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of S.2483/H.1403, An Act to ensure the responsible use of advanced robotic technologies filed by Senator Michael Moore & Rep. Lindsey Sabadosa.

Speaking before a large crowd, Micaelah Morrill, MassRobotics VP for Business Development and Brendan Schulman, VP of Policy & Government Relations for Boston Dynamics, spoke about the benefits of the legislation, which if adopted would be the first in the country and provide guidelines for preventing the misuse of robotics. 

At its core, An Act to ensure the responsible use of advanced robotic technologies, prohibits the manufacture, sale, use or operation of a robotic device or drone that is mounted with a weapon. It also prohibits the use of these technologies to threaten or harass anyone.

To increase public confidence in the use of robotic technologies by law enforcement officials, the bill clarifies that warrants (or other judicial authorization) are needed when entry onto private property is made by a robot, and that information about law enforcement use of these technologies shall be available to the public under Massachusetts public records law.

Exceptions are made for: bomb squad officials who are disabling suspected explosives; and the U.S. Department of Defense, its military contractors, and companies that obtain a waiver from the Attorney General to test anti-weaponization technologies because military technologies are well-managed and not at issue.

Ms. Morrill stated that providing guidelines is very helpful to startups and that Massachusetts is already a leader in robotics with 1 out of every 4 robotics patents filed from Massachusetts. AUVSI also spoke virtually about the need for federal oversight and that this would be a helpful first step. Boston Dynamics, the lead sponsor of the bill, has worked with a number of additional civil liberties and public safety groups to ensure support from all parties. 

See more coverage of the hearing and the legislation from:

  • Watch NBC10 news here