New York City officials announced Tuesday Three new high-tech police gadgets, Including a robot dog that critics described as terrifying when he first joined the force 2 1/2 years ago.
The police commissioner said the new equipment, including GPS tracking of stolen vehicles and a cone-shaped patrol robot, would be released “transparently, permanently and always with the people we serve”. Posted: Kaichant Sewell, along with Mayor Eric Adams and other officials, unveiled a robotic security guard and a mechanical dog named DigiDog at a press conference in Times Square.
“Digidog from the shelter,” said Adams, a Democrat and former police officer. “Digidog is part of the toolkit we use now.”
The city’s first robotic police dog was hired in 2020 by Adam’s predecessor, former Mayor Bill de Blasio, but the city’s deal for the device fell through after critics called it out. Horrible and dystopian .
An NYPD spokesperson told The New York Times at the time that public criticism that the robot depicted overly militarized and underdeveloped communities led the department to cancel the contract early.
Adams says he won’t bow to the pressure of anti-robot dogs.
“There were some vocal people who were against it, we backed off,” the mayor said. “I don’t work this way, I work to see what’s best for the city.”
Adams said the 70-pound (32-kilogram) remote-controlled DigiDog will be used in high-risk situations like kidnappings starting this summer.
“If the suspect is barricading himself, if there’s an armed person in the building, send a digidog there instead of the police,” he said. “So these are smart ways to use good technology.”
The tracking system, called Starchase, allows police to send a GPS tag associated with a stolen vehicle so officers can track the vehicle’s location. The New York Police Department’s pilot program to use the system will last 90 days, officials said.
The autonomous security robot, which Adams likens to a Roomba, will be deployed at the Times Square subway station for a seven-month test program starting this summer, law enforcement officials said.
Police said the device, which has been placed in malls and other places for years, was originally operated by a human friend.
Human rights activists and police reform advocates question the need for high-tech equipment.
“This latest announcement is the latest example of how Mayor Adams has allowed unlimited spending on top of the NYPD’s grossly inflated budget,” said Elena Mendez-Penat, director of the Joint Policing Reform Program. “The NYPD is buying robot dogs and other fancy technology, New Yorkers can’t get food stamps because city government is understaffed, and New Yorkers are getting fired because they can’t afford lawyers.”
Albert Fox Kahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said: “The NYPD is turning bad sci-fi movies into horror cops. What New York needs is real security, not RoboCop.