New York gives K5 subway robot a go

Henry

The New York City subway service has given its controversial security robot, K-5, the go-ahead after just over five months of patrolling the busy Times Square station.

The robot would rather spend its last days in a storage room The New York Times Friday report.

K5’s woefully short tenure with the subway system is said to be largely due to frequent charging breaks, the need to be escorted by human officers and the robot’s inability to climb stairs.

“The Knightscope K-5 has completed its test deployment in the NYC subway system,” a police spokesperson told AFP about the device – which was introduced with great fanfare in September last year.

The robot – part Star Wars character and part smart car in appearance – is equipped with several cameras, as well as a help button for commuters at the city’s busiest subway station, which is also a major tourist attraction.

“I keep saying it’s trash on wheels, but it looks like the wheels aren’t even working at this stage,” said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the counter-espionage technology campaign group, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

“With numerous major crimes taking place here and the mayor ordering budget cuts at various city agencies, I want to know why so much money is being spent on these devices.”

The mayor of New York, Eric Adams, is himself a former police officer. He has placed technology at the center of his crime-fighting strategy, enthusiastically touting the use of drones, facial recognition cameras and robotics.

The New York Police Department also introduced a $74,000 (about R1.4 million) robotic dog in April last year, which is equipped with cameras, a two-way communication system and lights to help in emergency situations.

Police have also adopted the Starchase program, a GPS location system that enables officers to attach a tracker to fleeing vehicles. This reduces the need for dangerous chases through New York’s crowded streets.