The New York Police Department is welcoming a new “canine” to its team, a robot dog.
“Digidog is out of the pound,” said Mayor Eric Adams at a Tuesday, April 11 press conference in Times Square. “Digidog is now part of the tool kit that we are using. And trust me when I tell you this, if a person has a loved one that is in a hostage situation, they want a Digidog, a real dog and anything else they can get, to keep their family members safe.”
After acquiring the Digidog as part of a test program in late 2020, the NYPD canceled its contract early following a backlash from the community which called the robot dog “creepy.”
In addition to the return of Boston Dynamic’s Digidog (also called “Spot”), the NYPD announced two other new policing technologies: K5 autonomous security robot and the StarChase GPS attachment system. Both the StarChase system and K5 robots will be deployed as part of a pilot program.
“We want the public to know that the use of these technologies will be transparent, consistent and always done in collaboration with the people that we serve,” NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
Sewell spoke of the department’s long history with implementing the latest techniques and technologies to improve its ability to serve the public. Among other things, the NYPD was one of the first police departments in the world to implement fingerprinting and mugshots and New York was the first city to widely adopt the 911 call system for emergencies.
“In every era we have maximized public and officer safety through emerging technology, and that approach continues today,” Sewell said.
In addition to the return of Digidog, NYPD will start to utilize two new technologies this summer.
Using self-driving technology as well as onboard cameras and sensors, similar to a Roomba, the K5 Autonomous Security Robot (ASR) will conduct automated patrols in indoor and outdoor confined areas. NYPD is looking to initially deploy the technology in either Times Square or the subway station as part of a pilot program this summer.
As part of another pilot program, the NYPD will utilize StarChase, which provides vehicle tracking via a projectile that a attaches a GPS enabled device that can be tracked remotely.