New York City will soon begin testing artificial intelligence technology to detect weapons at subway turnstiles. Mayor Eric Adams’ announcement comes a week after an altercation at a Brooklyn subway station in which a man was shot with his own gun after he pointed it at another passenger.

Adams said the city is working with Evolv, a Massachusetts-based gun detection company whose detectors are used in schools across the country.

The pilot project will begin in 90 days under a law that requires the New York Police Department to disclose the surveillance technologies it uses and to issue impact and use statements before introducing new technologies.

Adams did not say where the scanners would be installed or how many would be deployed. Adams temporarily installed an Evolvi scanner in front of the entrance to City Hall back in 2022 after a gunman opened fire on a subway car in Brooklyn. This year, a Bronx hospital tested similar Evolv technology after a man was shot in the emergency room there. Dozens of school districts across the country have also installed Evolvi scanners to prevent campus shootings.

Evolvi scanners look like metal detectors but are equipped with artificial intelligence. The company claims the scanners use secure, ultra-low-frequency electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons.

Evolv CEO Peter George has claimed that the scanners can detect almost any type of weapon. “We’ve considered all the threats: all the weapons out there, all the bombs, all the big tactical knives,” George said in 2021.

However, reports indicate that the technology doesn’t actually work that well. Evolv’s scanners reportedly flagged the umbrellas as weapons, but failed to detect aluminum and steel tubes that had been cut to look like gun barrels. Last year, The Intercept reported that some school districts were frustrated that Evolvi’s machines failed to detect knives in students’ backpacks or mistakenly identified lunch boxes as bombs.

Last October, the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into whether Evolv’s AI detection system works as advertised. In March, investors filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the company misrepresented the effectiveness of its products and defrauded the public, customers and investors.

Source: The Verge