Kudos to Mayor Adams for Bringing the 21st Century to Life in NYC!

Knightscope security robot is seen in downtown Houston. Knightscope is an American security camera and robotics company.
Knightscope’s K5 in action in downtown Houston. Photo: Stock.

February 4th Update: K5 is no longer patrolling the Times Square subway station as local authorities are reviewing its effectiveness.

Is a Crime Terminator Here?

Not exactly, but it’s a start! New York City Mayor Adams has maintained his pledge to keep the city high-tech, and in so doing, he unveiled an autonomous robot that will patrol Times Square.

K5, as it is called, stands about 5′ high and about 4′ wide and will act as the eyes and ears of the police. It has four cameras and a button that can be pushed in an emergency.

The robotics company Knightscope created this autonomous machine. It stood beside Adams as he promoted it at a press conference in the Times Square subway, adorned with the NYPD colors. As the mayor demonstrated it, its cameras pointed directly at the reporters who attended the conference.

Autonomous robot in park
Photo by YAROSLAV SAPRYKIN on Unsplash

In keeping with the latest technology to fight crime in the city, the mayor said, “The NYPD must be on the forefront of technology and be two steps ahead of those who are utilizing technology to hurt New Yorkers,” Adams said. “And trust me. They are.

NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said, “It’s very important that the public knows what this robot is and what its capabilities are.”

Is K5 a Buy or Lease?

The city is leasing the drone robot. It will roam the Times Square station between midnight and 6 a.m. but not go onto subway platforms.

The robot will capture video footage only. It does not have audio, but it does have an emergency button that allows commuters to contact the police department with questions or to report an emergency. No facial recognition software is attached to the machine.

Some are Not Enthused

Civil rights advocates have alleged that the police department is not following the required protocols. Some say that a public review, as outlined in a law called the POST Act, is not being followed.

The statute requires the Adams administration to publish detailed descriptions of a new technology’s capabilities, how it will be used, and what will be done with any collected data. The public is supposed to have weeks to weigh in.

However, the NYPD stated that if this type of technology is similar to one already in use (the Digidog mobile robot), it should be incorporated into its existing impact statement.

The Legal Aid Society is questioning the NYPD and alleging that they are bypassing the concept of this law. Legal Aid attorney Shane Ferro stated, “What happens when the 400-pound autonomous robot hits somebody or falls down the stairs?”.

Mayor Adams counters these concerns by stating that these advancing technologies will increase safety in policing and help the NYPD become more efficient.

He also said that K5 saves money.“This is below minimum wage,” Adams quipped. “No bathroom breaks. No meal breaks. This is a good investment.” and “… eventually, this is going to be part of the fabric of our subway system.”

At the End of the Day!

Will these new technologies help or hinder the New York City Police Department? The answer remains to be seen, but the mayor appears hopeful they will benefit the city and increase safety for its citizens.