Mayor Adams Brings Back Robot Dog to the NYPD, Unveils Two Other High-Tech Devices

New York City officials announced new high-tech additions to the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) toolkit. Not all the tools were new, actually, as it includes the return of the robotic dog that was first introduced to the force in 2020, only to be retired shortly after in 2021 after overwhelming backlash from critics.

“Digidog is out of the pound,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “Digidog is now part of the toolkit that we are using.”

When it was first leased to the NYPD in 2020 from creator Boston Dynamics, the robot was hailed as a future lifesaver and protector for the police department. But it soon became the symbol of police aggression especially around the topics of race and surveillance. Digidog made people feel uneasy, creeped out, and suspicious about whether the police department was properly managing its funding.

The $94,000 contract with Boston Dynamics was quietly terminated and the robot returned in April 22, 2021 after City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued a subpoena for records related to the robot. 

The mayor, a Democrat and a retired police captain who was in the NYPD for two decades, indicated that unlike his predecessor former Mayor Bill de Blasio, he won’t give in to pressure to send Digidog away.

“A few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back,” he said. “That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what’s best for the city.”

Adams explained that starting in the summer the 70-pound, remote-controlled caninelike robot will be deployed in situations deemed too dangerous or high-risk for police officers.

“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,” Adams said. “So these are smart ways of using good technologies.”

Adams also unveiled the K5 Autonomous Security Robot, which is designed to gather and send intelligence back to the NYPD. Officials said that it will be rolling around at the Times Square subway station in a seven-month pilot program beginning this summer. 

K5 Autonomous Security Robot | Photo by Jeenah Moon for the New York Times

The mayor compared it to a Roomba, a tragic comparison as similar robots have been used in San Francisco to ward off homeless people from an animal center.

The K5 ASR just looks so familiar

The GPS tracking system, called StarChase, is a tracker that shoots out from a gun-like device to attach itself to a car, preferably stolen, to make it easier for the police to track down the vehicle’s location. The NYPD will run a 90-day pilot program for the system.

“We are scanning the globe on finding technology that will ensure this city is safe for New Yorkers, visitors and whomever is here in the city,” Adams said. “This is the beginning of a series of rollouts.”

Information for this briefing was found via the Associated Press, the New York Times, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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