The New York City Police Department got some extra help recently when the force began testing an autonomous safety robot in the city’s Time Square subway station.
The robot is manufactured by Silicon Valley startup Knightscope.
The K5 robot is able to move around the subway station and will record videos of any crimes, calling for backup.
The 400 lb. 5-foot tall robot was designed to provide added protection to open spaces and utilizes a host of sensors, including laser range finding, and thermal detectors to monitor its environment.
Knightscope was founded in 2013 and its founders cite the Sandy Hook shootings as a prime motivator for the robot solutions.
While the partnership with the NYPD is getting a lot of press attention, Knightscope has many provided robots to many companies and public institutions.
Casinos and brick and mortar stores have used robots to monitor parking lots and other areas that are typically left unattended.
College campuses and public parks have also seen a rise in use.
In 2022, Knightscope acquired CASE Emergency Systems, the company that provides the common blue light call stations in many public spaces and university campuses.
The robots are not without controversy, as many worry about privacy issues since the robot takes video and pictures, analyzing them against police files and even social media platforms.
Many security professionals worry about the displacement of human security personnel.
But Knightscope CEO William Sanata Le sees it differently stating, “The math problem the country has is basically there is about 2 and 1/2 million law enforcement officers and security guards. They’re running 24/7. So at any given time, there are only maybe 600,000+ humans trying to secure 334 million Americans across 50 states.”
But many subway riders are still skeptical about the effectiveness of what is, in essence, simply a deterrent and not Robocop.