Times Square security robot

Times Square Security Robot Trial Comes to an End in NYC

The New York Police Department has ended its pilot program using a 400-pound robot to patrol the Times Square subway station. The robot, called the Knightscope K5, looked like an oversized version of R2-D2 from Star Wars. It was one of Mayor Eric Adams’ experiments with high-tech tools to boost public safety in New York City.

The K5 rolled through the subway station from midnight to 6 AM for two months. However, it had significant limitations. The robot has no arms and cannot climb stairs. It usually just patrolled while plugged in, accompanied by police officers.

Commuters said the robot did not seem very useful. It has cameras to record video and a button for riders to contact a live person. But it cannot actively intervene in situations needing immediate response.


Times square security robot


“This robot works for less than minimum wage, with no bathroom or meal breaks,” Mayor Adams joked when the pilot began. The city leased the K5 for around $9 per hour.

Privacy advocates worried the machine could eventually have facial recognition or other surveillance capabilities. For now, it seems to lack any high-tech spy powers. The K5 has finished its subway pilot and will not patrol there anymore.

The robotics company Knightscope would not comment to the New York Times about future plans. A spokesperson said they cannot discuss certain clients, likely meaning the New York City government.

So the curious, if ineffective, robot will leave Times Square commuters alone. Whether city officials will deploy it for another pilot in the transit system or elsewhere remains unclear. For critics of high-tech surveillance, the K5’s departure comes as a relief.