New York City — The nation’s largest police department unveiled an autonomous robot that will patrol one of the city’s busiest subway stations. The device, known as K5 and produced by robotics company Knightscope, stood motionless alongside Adams at a Friday press conference, its shell emblazoned with NYPD colors and its unblinking camera lens pointed at reporters and commuters in the bustling transit hub beneath Times Square.
“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.”
Politico reported that the city is leasing the drone, shaped like an upright rocket nose on wheels, for two months as part of a pilot program. The machine will patrol the Times Square station between midnight and 6 a.m.
The robot will capture video footage and will feature a button allowing passersby to connect with someone at the police department for questions or to report an emergency. It will not employ facial recognition.
During the pilot period, the K5 device will be accompanied by an employee from the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit, which police brass said is essential to quelling any concerns from visitors and New Yorkers.
While the testing phase makes sense, civil rights advocates are sounding the alarm.
Shane Ferro, a staff attorney with Legal Aid, argued that much is unknown about the potential effects of the K5, including who has access to the data it collects and where it is stored.
The mayor has stressed emerging technology as a way to increase safety and efficiency in policing.