From the department of What Could Possibly Go Wrong? comes Taser’s new autonomous drone armed with a stun gun, yet another way for the police in the U.S. to threaten the citizenry with violence. The Taser drone is still a concept under discussion, rather than an actual shipping weapon, but this is exactly what happens when a commercial entity that supplies law-enforcement agencies has to find new and better ways to neutralize humans in order to pursue growth and keep its shareholders happy.
The justification for this “non-lethal” device is, as ever, terrorism. “One can certainly imagine high-risk scenarios such as terrorist barricades where autonomous Taser deployment could allow public safety officers to more rapidly incapacitate a threat and save many lives,” Taser spokesperson Steve Tuttle told the WSJ.
The Taser drone could carry many different accessories, from cameras to lights, as well as the company’s eponymous device. The drone would itself be autonomous: that is, you wouldn’t need a person to pilot it. Usually in the case of drones, autonomous means that you can give a destination and its finds it own way there. One scenario envisioned by for autonomous devices is sending an armed drone into a room ahead of officers.
“If an officer goes into a room and there’s an armed adversary, he has no choice except to shoot,” Sean Bielat, CEO of Endeavor Robotics, a military robotics company, told Tech.Mic’s Jack Smith IV. “By adding time and space between the operator, you’ve introduced an element that can potentially reduce casualties.”
A Taser drone could indeed save lives in this situation, but it’s also entirely possible that the drone could be used to intimidate protesters, for example. Without proper training and oversight, putting even more new weapons into the hands of cops is probably a bad idea.