Mayor Eric Adams on Friday rolled out a new addition to the city’s subway security measures: a “robocop” designed to patrol train stations.
The robotic officer, a Knightscope K5, will undergo a two-month probation period at the Times Square-42nd Street subway station, spending its first two weeks being trained to map out the station, Adams said at a news conference.
The K5 will record video footage for authorities to review in case of emergency or crime, he said. It is also equipped with various security features, including a button that will allow New Yorkers to connect to a live person for questions, report suspicious activity or request emergency assistance.
What You Need To Know
- The robotic officer, a Knightscope K5, will undergo a two-month probation period at the Times Square-42nd Street subway station
- It will record video footage for authorities to review in case of emergency or crime, it will not record audio or use facial recognition
- The robotic officer will be leased by the city for $9 per hour, according to Mayor Adams
"We're taking existing technology, cameras, being able to communicate with people, and we're placing it on wheels and ensuring that it can be used 24 hours, seven days a week if needed,” Adams said of the robot.
Both the mayor and NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper stressed that the K5 will not record audio or use facial recognition.
“We understand the K5 robot will generate some buzz and curiosity. Let me be crystal clear and dispel any rumors or concerns about this robot: It will not employ facial recognition technology,” Kemper said. “Any video collected will adhere to the same guidelines as that of any other technology in the NYPD’s current toolbox.”
During the pilot program, the robot will operate from midnight to 6 a.m., focusing on the main station area, not the platforms, Adams said.
It will be accompanied by an NYPD officer at all times, who will oversee the mapping phase and interact will commuters who may have questions or concerns regarding the new technology, he added.
Kemper said the robot is part of the NYPD's commitment to leveraging technology to enhance transit safety, noting that the city has seen a decrease in transit crimes in recent years with the department’s advancements.
The robotic officer will be leased by the city for $9 per hour, Adams said.
“This is a good investment in the taxpayers dollars," he said. "This is below minimum wage. No bathroom breaks. No meal breaks. This is a good investment.”
Asked about concerns of vandalism, the mayor responded that anyone who seeks to damage the new piece of technology will be held responsible for its repairs.
Depending on the severity of damage, vandals may even face felony charges, Kemper said.
However, Adams did showcase the robot's sturdiness, noting its weight of 420 lbs., which would make it difficult to push or topple over.
Following the two-month pilot program, Adams said he and city officials will review the effectiveness of the K5 robot and decide whether or not to expand the security initiative to other stations in the subway system.