The tentative agreement between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the union representing its workers has thrown the spotlight back on the ongoing contract negotiations between the city and its civil servants.
The dispute has stretched on for years as the 152 unions, which represent approximately 300,000 workers, demand billions of dollars in retroactive raises.
But part of the workforce at some of these agencies have not been part of the negotiations. That’s because they don’t get paid. And they don’t talk. They are robots.
Let’s take a look at some integral members of city government who are not usually in the public eye.
Employed by: New York City Fire Department
Maker: SuperDroid Robots
What it does: Takes photos in collapsed buildings to assist with searches; takes metered readings during HazMat operations.
Special features: Remote control with joystick and touch screen, thermal camera, camera with 27x zoom, camera for reversing out of tight spaces.
The FDNY asked SuperDroid Robots to make the department a custom robot after extensive testing starting in 2011, including a four-day trial at the Disaster City simulation training center in Texas. The city paid $99,790 for the robot, which was delivered on June 30, 2013.
Employed by: New York City Police Department
Maker: Remotec at Northrop Grumman
What it does: Handles suspected bombs
Features: Weighs 245 pounds; fiber optic cable; can run for up to four hours; able to move through sand, mud and snow; can climb stairs at angles of 45 degrees or more; moves at 4.3 miles per hour or more.
The NYPD is upgrading two of its Andros HD-1 robots, which are the same robots shown in the first few minutes of The Hurt Locker. They will be getting new radios and new arms “that are more dexterous and capable of lifting more weight,” according to Matthew McQueen, a spokesman from Northrop Grumman. “With these upgrades, we’re giving the NYPD’s HD-1 robots HD-2 capabilities.”
Employed by: Metropolitan Hospital
Maker: Originally manufactured by McKesson; now made by Aesynt
What it does: Dispenses medication
According to the brochure for Robot-Rx, “The system can operate without continuous attendance, allowing pharmacy staff to multi-task and perform other, higher-value duties.” It also says that “ROBOT-Rx handles more than 90 percent of medications dispensed from central pharmacy, including tablets, capsules, vials, ampoules, syringes and other odd form medications.”
Employed by: Department of Housing Preservation and Development
What it does: Delivers mail
HPD paid $19,170 to Mail Finance, Inc. to lease an “automated mail tracking system” that delivered letters and packages to its employees from 2007 to 2011, according to CheckbookNYC.