Armed drones could take to the skies

Taser International is in discussion with the police to equip drones with Tasers and we could have stun-gun toting flying machines sooner rather than later.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company that supplies the stun guns to the police is in talks with officials to get a working prototype into the skies before too long.

There are clear benefits, as the police can send a drone in place of a human being and reduce the risk to their own officers. The drone can also gain quick access to rooftops and can chase suspects down relatively quickly, bringing potentially dangerous situations under control quickly and safely.

There already is a drone-mounted stun gun

Chaotic Moon has already created a similar device, using a Tarot Hexacopter that is more suited to carrying DSLR cameras equipped with a Phazzer Dragon that is capable of delivering an 80,000 volt lesson in life. That device required two people to work the controls, one to fly the drone and another to target and fire the weapon. So it wasn’t quite ideal, but it was a good solution and the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone came with one of the least appropriate accronyms we have ever seen: CUPID.

Police in India have already used drones to deliver CS gas and this kind of ‘attack’ might be more useful in the short-term, as the drone really doesn’t require precision targeting as it would with a Taser strike. One thing is clear, tough, the police and other government agencies are increasingly interested in drones and other unmanned vehicles that can help them do their job and keep people safe.

Police used a bomb disposal robot to deliver a lethal payload to a Dallas shooting suspect in July and we are slowly seeing an evolution of the drones in service from pure surveillance through to active tools of the trade.

Drones have been employed by firefighters, law enforcement agencies and inevitably border patrol. As a simple eye in the sky, they have been a revelation. Now we have to understand how far we can push the humble drone and how we can use it to make this a safer, better world.

Weaponized drones is a bit Terminator

A Taser-equipped drone on the streets might be taking it too far, as there are all kinds of ethical issues with weaponized robots in the public domain and the police are likely to face serious opposition. It’s dangerously close to the Terminator concept and even the slightest problem would have the critics out in droves. In fact, it would be almost impossible to introduce this kind of concept in any form right now.

It might be a non-lethal Taser, but it could easily pave the way for fully-armed drones that could take us into some kind of Orwellian nightmare. It also has to overcome a number of targeting issues and it really wouldn’t be as simple as we think.

Pete Simpson, of the Portland police department, told the WSJ: “Getting the public to accept an unmanned vehicle with a weapon on it might be a hurdle to overcome.”

Then we have to consider how much autonomy we can give these drones. If they are armed with weapons, the safe answer to that is pretty much none.

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