The days when the Spot was used as a weapons and training platform with special forces operators are coming to an end. Atlas that flips back will never become a soldier of fortune. Their manufacturer, Boston Dynamics, along with five other industry leaders signed an open letter pledging not to weaponize their platforms.

Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree Robotics are joining the deal with Boston Dynamics.

“We believe that adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues,” the group wrote. “Weaponized applications of these newly-capable robots will also harm public trust in the technology in ways that damage the tremendous benefits they will bring to society.”

To explain why they feel the need to take this stance, the group “the increasing public concern in recent months caused by a small number of people who have visibly publicized their makeshift efforts to weaponize commercially available robots,” such as the armed Spot from Ghost Robotics, or the Dallas police department’s use of an EOD bomb disposal robot as an improvised explosive device.

Boston Dynamics and other industry heavyweights have promised not to build military robots

To this end, manufacturers undertake “not weaponize our advanced-mobility general-purpose robots or the software and we will not support others to do so.” Nor will they allow their customers to later weaponize any platforms sold to them. This is a big caveat given the long and storied history of weapons such as Toyota Technical, former Hilux pickups, converted into home-made combat vehicles, which have been the mainstay in asymmetric conflicts since the 80s of the last century.

“We also pledge to explore the development of technological features that could mitigate or reduce these risks,” the group continued, but “to be clear, we are not taking issue with existing technologies that nations and their government agencies use to defend themselves and uphold their laws.”

They are also calling on politicians and the rest of the robotics community to make similar commitments.