Skip to Content
The Cops

Eric Adams Sure Loves His Robot Cop Toys

Luckily, these robots are weak where we are strong.

Mayor Eric Adams checks out one of Boston Dynamics's "Digidogs," purchased by the NYPD.
(Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

Whether he's testing out new recipes for dead rat soup or getting shot with a Spider-Man gun, Eric Adams loves gadgets. And now that Adams is mayor, he can really indulge: On Tuesday morning, Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced that the NYPD has spent at least $750,000 in forfeiture money on three robots and a souped-up Nerf Gun that are going to totally revolutionize the City's crime-fighting capabilities.

"If we were not willing to move forward and use technology on how to properly keep cities safe, then you will not keep up with those who are doing harmful things to hurt New Yorkers," the mayor said in a press conference. It's a comment that implies there's some kind of new, crime-doing technology passing through the city's criminal underworld right now—A knife that has lasers? Teleportation but evil?—and elides the predictable reality: These robots are a pricey publicity stunt that won't tip the scales on "safety" in the city one way or the other.

The new acquisitions include two Boston Dynamics "Digidogs," like the one the NYPD had to return in 2021 after major backlash from politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the large swath of New Yorkers who don't want to get stalked by a robot police dog. The NYPD says the Digidogs will be deployed in "'high-risk' investigations and situations involving hostages or hazard spills," and totally one hundred percent not used for surveillance.

The other robot, a Knightscope K5, is part of a pilot program and is reportedly set to patrol Times Square and the nearby Times Square subway station from midnight until 8 a.m., starting this summer. 

The NYPD is also piloting something called the "StarChase system," which involves the cops sticking a tracking tag or shooting one out of a gun onto a vehicle in order to follow it. In action, it looks like a recruitment tool for the worst 13-year-old you know:

Luckily, these robots are weak where we are strong. Not that we're suggesting anything—merely informing. There's a lot of interesting information about the Boston Dynamics robo-K9s available in this thread, for instance, including the location of a couple of shutdown mechanisms on each bot (a button that cuts the motor on the robot's metal ass and a handle on its mecha-belly that pops the battery out).

As for the egg-shaped K5s…those guys are verifiably pushable. I mean, look at them. Or read this story about a San Francisco man who kicked one over when he was drunk. And then there's the one that threw itself down the stairs and into a harbor in D.C. in 2017.

It's clear that if these things get deployed, they're going to have one of two fates: being a fixture in tourist photos alongside the world's grimiest Elmos and Spongebobs or serving as the city's most expensive punching bags. We're excited to watch as the situation unfolds.

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Give us your email address to keep reading two more articles for free

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Hell Gate

NYC Comptroller: The NYPD’s $22 Million Gunshot Detection System Flags an Awful Lot of Noises That Don’t Seem to Be Gunshots

Police spent 427 hours in one month alone chasing alerts that didn't turn out to be confirmed gunshots, a new report finds.

June 20, 2024

The Adams Administration Is Denying Roughly Half of Migrants’ Shelter Applications

While deciding who gets shelter, there's been confusion about what exactly the City is allowed to ask during the screening interviews.

June 20, 2024

Son Del North Brings World-Class Baja Burritos to the LES

Annisha Garcia's northern Mexico burritos are stuffed, flavorful, and totally satisfying. (Just don't ask for rice.)

June 20, 2024

Instead of Congestion Pricing, Senator Gillibrand Proposes ‘Creating Hubs Outside of the City Where People Can Leave Their Cars’

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand all but endorsed Governor Hochul's decision to put congestion pricing on ice.

See all posts