Times Square Subway Station in New York to Be Patrolled by a Police Robot
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is implementing new security measures at the Times Square subway station. Law and order at the station will be overseen by a police robot named K5, created by the California-based company Knightscope. K5 weighs 190 kilograms and has a cat-like face, equipped with four cameras capable of recording video without sound, as reported by Engadget.
The robot will patrol the station from midnight to 6 AM during its two-month trial period. However, K5 will not immediately patrol the entire subway station; during the first two weeks, it will focus on learning the station's layout and will only move around the main areas, not the platforms.
It's not entirely clear whether the robot will transmit real-time video from its cameras, and whether law enforcement will monitor what it captures. During the robot's presentation, New York City Mayor Eric Adams stated that it would "record video that can be reviewed in case of emergencies or crimes."
The robot evidently does not possess facial recognition capabilities, although Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, expressed concerns that this technology might eventually be integrated into the robot. Overall, Albert Fox Cahn had a very negative view of the robot, likening it more to a wheeled trash bin.
Clearly, K5 is not capable of responding to real emergencies at the station or physically or verbally detaining suspects. The only real-time assistance it can provide to people is to connect them with a police officer to report an incident or ask questions, provided they can press a button on the robot.
New York City is leasing K5 for $9 per hour for the next two months. Mayor Eric Adams believes that the benefits of using the robot justify the cost.
"$9 is below the minimum wage that a person would earn. Plus, no breaks for restroom or food," noted the Mayor of New York.
Adams has long advocated for the use of machines as police tools. Earlier this year, the mayor also announced that the New York City police would acquire two Digidog robots for $750,000 each, for use in hostage situations and other critical incidents.