"The way the robot was used in the Dallas case is likely legally no different from sending an officer in to shoot a hostile suspect, according to University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo.
Still, the Dallas Police Department's decision to use the unit in this way could have a major effect on how the public views the increasing integration of robots into daily life, he said.
"Obviously, if one of the ways we start regularly using robots is to kill people, their deployment will cause people to have a severe, potentially fearful, reaction," he explained.
However, Calo doesn't think that this instance signals a descent down a slippery slope to a dystopian robotic police state.
"I don't expect police to use robots like this except in extreme situations as happened in Dallas," he said."