The city council wants to force NYPD to reveal the cost of its new “Digidog,” days after Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested the city “rethink” its use of the dystopian police robot dog.
Council leaders on Monday subpoenaed the NYPD for any robot-related contracts or agreements with Boston Dynamics, the company behind the four-legged robo-cop.
“The public should know how much each of these devices is costing the city,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who issued the subpoena along with Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Hizzoner on Wednesday said he shared concerns that the robot is “unsettling” in the wake of a viral video of the pup patrolling a Manhattan housing project while cops responded to a hostage situation.
“I haven’t seen it, but I certainly share the concern that if in any way it’s unsettling to people, we should rethink the equation,” de Blasio told reporters.
Police had previously used the dog in February while responding to a home invasion and hostage situation in the Bronx — earning jeers from local politicians including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called it a “robotic surveillance ground drone.”
Kallos said police officials had refused to share details of their agreements related to the machine, which has a reported starting price of $74,000.
“Whether the mayor decides to deploy them or not, we need to know what the city has agreed to,” he said. “I would be surprised if we only paid $74,000 for them.”
The Manhattan rep has proposed legislation to ban NYPD from using any weaponized robots or drones — though NYPD’s Digidog is neither armed nor capable of flying.