The New York Police Department is beefing up its presence underground in its latest effort to harness technology to boost public safety.
Many New Yorkers remain very concerned about a spike in crime since the pandemic. Although subway crimes have fallen slightly since last year, police hope the K5 security patrol robot will help keep that positive momentum going.
At 5 feet tall and four hundred pounds, the Knightscope K5 Autonomous Security Robot is the NYPD’s new high-tech crimefighter. The new robot will be on duty at the Times Square subway station for two months working the overnight shift with a human partner.
The NYPD says the robot will provide an extra set of eyes, providing information in real-time using a live signal.
Transit officials are always exploring ways to use cutting-edge technology to reduce crime in the country’s largest subway system, and this is their latest experiment.
“Welcome to New York City K5, and welcome to the NYPD,” Michael Kemper, NYPD’s chief of transit, said.
The robot talks and roams with four cameras spanning 360 degrees, recording high-definition videos.
In case of emergency, the public can press an alert button on the robot that will connect them to a live person.
“It will record video that can be viewed in case of an emergency or a crime. It will not record audio and it will use facial recognition,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.
K5 joins the NYPD’s fastest-growing futuristic force.
Earlier this year, “Digidog” joined the department for use in highly dangerous situations like bomb threats and hostage standoffs.
“The NYPD must be on the forefront of technology and must be two steps ahead of those utilizing technology to hurt New Yorkers,” Adams said.
In the last few years, hundreds of newly installed security cameras and extra police officers have helped bring subway crime down 4%.
The NYPD is hoping its new robocop will serve as an added deterrent while also warning any potential crooks K5 is untouchable.
“If you come here and wanna damage K5 or commit any crime in the subway system, prepare to be identified and arrested,” Kemper said.
The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a New York-based privacy and civil rights group, condemned the use of the robot, saying it believes footage from the robot may be fed into existing facial recognition systems.
That’s a claim the mayor and NYPD deny.
Adams said the city will pay $9 an hour to operate K5, leased from its manufacturer Knightscope.
The robots are mostly used in airports, hotels, casinos, schools and police departments. K5 is also currently being used in other cities like Austin, Texas; Honolulu and Philadelphia.