NYC ends trial run of Times Square subway's security robot


New Yorkers can say goodbye — for now — to the robot the New York Police Department (NYPD) used to patrol the Times Square subway station. The Knightscope K5, which is a 400-pound machine that looks like it could be R2-D2’s massive sibling, was one of Mayor Eric Adams’ high-tech experiments for New York City. It was deployed in a pilot last year ostensibly to help keep commuters safe, but it had no actual capabilities that could be useful in situations that had to be addressed on site. “The K5 Knightscope has completed its pilot in the NYC subway system,” a spokesperson for the department told The New York Times.

The K5 has cameras that can record video and a button that people can press to get in touch with a live agent. It patrolled the station from midnight until 6AM throughout its trial run that lasted for two months, though “patrolled” might be a generous way of putting it. The machine has no arms and can’t go up or down the stairs. Commuters told The Times that it usually has a couple of cops with it and that it almost always seemed to be plugged in.

New York leased the K5 for around $9 an hour during its trial phase that ended in December. “This is below minimum wage,” Adams said when he announced the robot’s deployment at the Times Square station. “No bathroom breaks, no meal breaks.” At the time, privacy advocates had been concerned that the machine could eventually be equipped with facial recognition and other surveillance tools. They no longer have to worry about the K5 being used for surveillance in NYC, unless, of course, city officials decide to keep on leasing it for other purposes. A Knightscope spokesperson told The Times that the company is “not authorized to speak about certain clients,” which presumably includes the NYC government.



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