The United States has some of the most stringent gun laws globally. However, the right of people to keep and bear arms can sometimes be put to the wrong use. Recently, news regarding the debate over gun control was issued post the shooting of 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on 24 May.
The debate was that if gun laws can’t be enacted and teachers cannot be provided with arms, the public has no choice but to get used to school shootings. This discussion led Axon’s founder and chief executive, Rick Smith, to turn his thought of how drones and non-lethal weapons could protect people into a reality. Earlier, he had expressed his idea through his writing in his book ‘THE END OF KILLING’ a couple of years ago.
The drone will play the same role that sprinklers and other fire suppression equipment work for firefighters, i.e., averting a catastrophe or alleviating its harmful effects.
Axon, the Arizona-based company, has been developing technology and weapons products for civilians, military, and law enforcement to protect their lives. They focus on innovating products such as non-lethal weapons and other wearable technology like body cameras.
Axon’s Plan of Action
After the Uvalde incident, Rick Smith and his company were instigated and fired up, so they started working to make Rick’s idea a reality. Many people feel that there should be some other response to such devastating events, and that’s where Axon and his team think their technology could help.
In an interview, Rick, the CEO of Axon, said that the recent elementary school shooting tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, drove him to open up about his project with the public because the country’s politicians are not quite effective in dealing with this situation.
So, in response to the mass shootings, Axon is working on producing a lightweight taser that can be installed on a drone or robot, which works and operates remotely via ‘targeting algorithms.’ The operator of this device is ultimately responsible for the actions and consequences.
This project will also include integrated camera networks, which allow schools and corporations to share real-time access to the sensors with local public safety agencies.
The rapid advancement in significant technologies, i.e., drones and non-lethal energy weapons, will be an integral part of the project.
Limitations of the Project
Rick appreciates the risks involved in such a proposal, which is why he and his team are willing to start with a caveat. They intend not to introduce technology like non-lethal drones into schools without stringent discussion and laws governing their use. The following points could serve as a starting point:
- Keep the Purpose of Project Intacted: The main objective of the weapon attached to the robot or drone should only fire weapons that immobilize, not kill. Otherwise, life-saving drones defeat the purpose of this whole proposal.
- Human Operator: Human beings must control and make all drone decision-making and be in charge of the moral and legal outcomes. Moreover, the person must be an authenticated human with rigorous training, licenses, and authority to act. In short, the requirement is a highly trained law enforcement official for the operation of this project.
- Should Provide Insights: To ensure safety, the protective robotic technology must offer the oversight and transparency systems to reason the decision of targetting shooters.
Also, the question of who would operate the drones remains unanswered, with possibilities ranging from federal agencies, police departments, or Axon’s team.
Despite specific provisions, Axon has the systems at hand to produce reliable, life-saving, non-lethal drones to prevent the next Uvalde, Columbine, or Sandy Hook. According to Rick, what is needed is the intention to make this project a reality and a serious public conversation about its deployments, operations, and tests.
Axon has already begun the development of the remotely-operated TASER drone system as part of their long-term solution to stop and fight back against mass shootings. As per Smith, a “proof-of-concept” model will be completed within a year, and the field tests will be possible in two years, pending regulatory approvals.