New York City officials will be employing three new high-tech policing robots to fight crime, including a robot dog the FDNY will use for search-and-rescue missions.
The four-legged robot, “Digidog,” will “save lives,” NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced during a press conference.
The remote-controlled robot, also known as “Spot,” is manufactured by Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics.
The $75,000 robot dog is designed to perform inspections in dangerous areas and monitor construction sites and is touted by Boston Dynamics as a public safety tool.
Spot can also sniff out dangerous gasses and collect structural safety data, the New York Post reports.
The bright yellow gadget was first leased in 2020 by former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, but the city’s contract for the device was abandoned in April 2021 after it was derided by critics as creepy and an example of dystopian “surveillance.”
The 70-pound Digidog will be deployed to assist law enforcement officials in risky situations like hostage standoffs and bomb threats this summer, Adams told reporters.
“I believe that technology is here; we cannot be afraid of it,” the Democrat lawmaker said. “A few loud people were opposed to it, and we took a step back. That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what’s best for the city.”
“If you have a barricaded suspect, if you have someone that’s inside a building that is armed instead of sending police in there, you send Digidog in there,” he continued. ” So there are smart ways of using good technologies.”
Adams is also deploying the “K5 Autonomous Security Robot,” a “fully autonomous security robot,” inside the Times Square subway state in a seven-month pilot program this summer.
K5 ASR, manufactured by Knightscope, is an indoor/outdoor robot that is equipped with four HD cameras, one infrared thermal camera, 16 microphones, one amplified P.A. speaker horn and one strobe light.
It navigates autonomously by taking advantage of five lidar sensors and seven sonar sensors. It has a max speed of 3 mph, weighs 398 lb., and is 62.5 in. in height. It was designed to operate 24 hours a day and can recharge itself without the need of a human, according to Knightscope. It is also capable of sending live alerts to public safety officials.
Adams compared K5 to a Roomba.
Here’s the K5. pic.twitter.com/poXIjmSwx6
— Samantha Max (@samanthaellimax) April 11, 2023
Police reform advocates are denouncing Mayor Adam’s use of public funds.
“This latest announcement is just the most recent example of how Mayor Adams allows unmitigated overspending of the NYPD’s massively bloated budget,” Ileana Mendez-Penate, program director of Communities United for Police Reform told the Associated Press. “The NYPD is buying robot dogs and other fancy tech while New Yorkers can’t access food stamps because city agencies are short-staffed, and New Yorkers are getting evicted because they can’t access their right to counsel.”
“The NYPD is turning bad science fiction into terrible policing. New York deserves real safety, not a knockoff RoboCop,” Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project told the publication.