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Honolulu Police defends purchase of controversial robot dog

<i>KITV</i><br/>The $150
The $150

By Kristen Consillio

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    Honolulu, Hawaii (KITV) — A controversial $150,000 robot dog helping the Honolulu Police Department during the COVID-19 surge is worth its price tag, according to a lieutenant in charge of the program.

The robot named “Spot” recently began delivering food and water to a COVID-19-positive person living at HPD’s Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons, or HONU project at Ke’ehi Lagoon.

Joseph O’Neil, acting lieutenant of HPD’s community outreach unit, says the need for the program doubled since the beginning of August. There’s currently 78 people on site.

“Having the ability to deploy something that can do all interactions on a mobile platform and take the possibility of transmission out of the equation for me I really don’t think that over the long term a $150,000 is a waste,” he said.

He says the robot dog can not only scan temperatures at seven feet away, but can also carry supplies and has two-way communication.

HPD earlier said the need for Spot arose when officers and civilians were being taken off the line of duty to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposures.

But the department came under fire for spending Federal Cares Act money instead of having actual workers do the job.

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