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I am very sad for the NYPD's useless and purgatory-bound subway robot

person looks at nypd subway robot
This person staring plaintively at the robot is, surprisingly, not me.Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty
  • In September 2023, NYC Mayor Eric Adams praised the new subway-patrolling robot called K5.

  • But K5 has been placed in robot purgatory while the city figures out its next job.

  • I am now sad for the robot I once maligned.

When New York City Mayor Eric Adams stood next to a 400-pound "fully autonomous" subway-patrolling robot and proclaimed that it would soon become "part of the fabric of our subway system," I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Like many people, I thought the robot, called K5, was ridiculous — a bloated, shiny symbol of the surveillance state and the pet project of a mayor whose city was suffering crisis after crisis.

But now the NYPD robot has been placed in purgatory — a barren shopfront — and I am no longer laughing. Instead, I am in a deep well of sadness.

According to The New York Times, K5 has been removed from its post in the Times Square subway station, where it required constant guardianship from human police officers.

Its supposed purpose was to promote public safety, though bystanders who spoke to the paper were doubtful it did much of anything. "Who cared for who," one said. "The robot for the police, or the police for the robot?"

"It could not use the stairs," the Times observed. "Some straphangers wanted to abuse it."

Maybe it's the photo that accompanied the story, in which a forlorn K5 appears to stare dead on at the camera as if to whisper, Please, save me, won't you? Maybe it's the fact that K5 and I are exactly the same height (5-foot-3), or all the news about how the media industry is crumbling, or that, earlier this week, I was rejected by a guy who made a targeted Instagram ad about looking for someone to date. Maybe it's because I haven't seen the sun in 15 days.

But on Friday afternoon, as I read about the robot's quiet sunsetting, I felt nothing but sorrow.

Is K5 still a symbol of the bloated surveillance state? Yes. Should it exist at all? Probably not. Will I be arrested tonight for trying to break it out of its storefront "home"? Who can say.

There may be a ray of sunshine on the horizon, however. In an email, a spokesperson for City Hall said that the administration is "reviewing options for the K5's next deployment as part of the pilot," though no precise timeframe was provided. (The pilot program is set to last six months.)

Similarly, the NYPD told me that K5 "has completed its pilot deployment in the NYC subway system."

mayor eric adams tries to do the heart thing with the subway robot
"Heeeeeeelp meeeeeeee." Business Wire/AP

Maybe we will soon see K5 patrolling Yankees games, or gallivanting along the boardwalk in the Rockaways, or living with a 5-foot-3 roommate after she freed it from the surveillance state and showed it everything the world has to offer.

For now, like all of us, it's simply trying to figure out its next steps in life.

Read the original article on Business Insider