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A new robot is on the beat in New York City.
The Knightscope 5, or K5, described as a "fully autonomous outdoor security robot," by the tech company in Mountain View, California that builds the robots, is set to begin patrolling the Times Square subway station between midnight and 6 a.m. ET during a two-month trial, accompanied by a police officer, Mayor Eric Adams said Friday during a press conference.
The 5-foot-2-inch robot, which weighs about 400 pounds, is weatherproof and capable of capturing 360-degree video. It sports four HD cameras with wide-angle lenses, as well as an infrared thermal camera. "It will record video that can be used in case of an emergency or a crime," Adams said.
K5 won't be pursuing or catching any criminals, as its top speed is 3 mph. Also, the robot needs breaks, because it can patrol for 2½ to 3 hours on a fully charged battery, then needs 20-30 minutes to recharge, according to Knightscope.
The robot will not record audio or use facial recognition, Adams said. But it has a button citizens can use to report incidents.
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Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a privacy and civil rights group, dismissed the robot, which began its patrol Friday night, as a “trash can on wheels,” The New York Times reported.
While there's likely been many advances in K5's operations, one of the robots in 2016 knocked down a toddler in a Silicon Valley Mall, The Verge reported at the time. The 16-month-old was not hurt and Knightscope officials called it a "freakish accident."
During the two-month trial, K5 will be accompanied by a police officer to help introduce the public to the robot's function, Adams said. But if the trial is successful, K5 will patrol on its own.
"We will assess the robot's effectiveness and decide whether and how we'll continue to use it moving forward," Adams said.
What types of robots are being used in New York?
It's not the first time New York City Mayor Eric Adams added robots and technology to the city's police and emergency response teams since he took office in January 2022.
In April, the former New York City police captain brought back into service robotic dogs, called Digidogs, for use in life-threatening situations, The New York Times reported earlier this year. Two years ago, the New York Police Department stopped using the robots, while the city's fire department continued to use them.
"Digidog is out of the pound," Adams said at the time, introducing a preview of K5 robot. "Digidog is now part of the toolkit."
The NYPD also has a temporary subscription with GPS tech company StarChase to use its GPS tracking launchers to tag and track vehicles, The Times reported. “What we want to do is to mitigate as many high-speed chases in the city as possible,” Mr. Adams said, according to The Times.
Researchers recently tested remote-controlled robots in New York to collect trash and recyclable materials, too.
How much will the new patrol robot cost New York City?
The city is leasing K5 at a cost of about $9 per hour, Adams said. The mayor has sought budget cuts in many city agencies, the Times has reported.
K5's rate “is below minimum wage,” Mr. Adams said during the event. "No bathroom breaks. No meal breaks."
We must use every available method to keep New Yorkers safe — including state of the art technologies like the Knightscope K5 security robot.
These devices will serve as an important, innovative deterrent to crime so we can keep NYC the safest big city in America. pic.twitter.com/YEHuNIw8Va
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) September 22, 2023
Knightscope CEO William Santana Li, a native New Yorker said in a statement, “I’ve never been as proud of Knightscope and our relentless team as I am today seeing our robot in Federal Blue wearing an NYPD patch on its shoulder.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York police: A new robot patrols Times Square subway station