NYC and NYPD Introduce Knightscope K5 Security Robots to Enhance Crime Prevention

The City of New York and the New York Police Department (“NYPD”) are launching a pilot project using the Knightscope K5 security robot service to patrol Times Square station. The pilot is part of the mayor’s goal of bringing more technology to the New York Police Department to help human officers deter and fight crime.

“Today we are launching a pilot program to test the Knightscope K5 security robot,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “The NYPD must be on the forefront of technology and be 2 steps ahead of those utilizing technology to hurt New Yorkers.”

The city is leasing the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered autonomous K5 robot for two months, at a cost averaging about $9 per hour.  The first two weeks of the project will be spent on training, configuration, and setup protocols for the autonomous robot to navigate, followed by patrol activities between the hours of 12:00am and 6:00am. During the pilot, the robot will be accompanied by a human officer and will patrol the station’s mezzanine level, but not the platforms.  The K5 is able to monitor wide areas with its 360-degree camera. The robot will capture video footage, but will not record audio or use facial recognition. Those in need of help will be able to push a button on the robot to immediately contact the NYPD at any time.

Privacy rights advocates have already expressed concern that the K5 might eventually employ facial recognition technology. Earlier this year, the Legal Aid Society requested that the Police Department’s inspector general investigate the department’s use of surveillance technology, contending that it violated the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act – a city law requiring the department to publish details about how new technology is being used and the data it collects.