Drones armed with tasers, the latest idea of ​​the Americans to stop the mass shootings

The news of mass shootings in the US is unfortunately chasing each other relentlessly. The massacre at Robb Elementary School in Texas, with its 22 dead, is only the tip of the iceberg made up of hundreds of events and, above all, tens of thousands of deaths. Just think of the fact that in 2020, in the USA alone, there were 45,222 victims of firearms.

One of the most debated questions, in the days following these bloody events, is that relating to the intervention of the police: in addition to the now long-standing debate on the possession of weapons, one always wonders if the answer was quick, if the strategy adopted was the right one and if the intervening men had the right degree of training.

To intervene in this discussion is Axon, the American company that produces the famous – and in some ways infamous – TASER. And it does so with an interesting and at the same time disturbing proposal: wants to arm drones or small robots with TASER, to make them intervene instead of leather heads during mass shootings with hostages.

The only answer we can give to a shooter today is to put another man in front of him with a gun“Said Rick Smith, CEO and founder of Axon”We need new and better solutions. For this reason, we want to create a remotely operated non-lethal drone system that is effective, immediate, humane and ethical.

Axon’s system also includes an extensive network of cameras, such as that of fire hydrants

The part related to the creation of the drone will be entrusted to DroneSense, while Axon will develop the aiming algorithms used by the operators to aim and hit the target. It should be emphasized, however, that drones will not be equipped with Artificial Intelligence or autonomous driving features: there will always be an operator to maneuver themand any decision on the use of weapons will be taken by the latter.

During the presentation, the Axon executive talked about the system, because the platform that will govern the use of these drones consists of two other parts: the first, developed in collaboration with Fusus, provides the creation of an extensive network of surveillance cameras, which can guide rescuers and drones operated by them in real time.

To explain how large the surveillance network should be, the entrepreneur takes the fire hydrants network as an example: “There are about 10 million fire hydrants in the US, and every modern building has security systems that contain fires until the fire brigade arrives. I’m sure we can create a very similar video surveillance system that can detect, deter and ultimately stop a shooting inside a building. And the costs wouldn’t even be that different“.

The other fundamental part of the Axon project is that of training: the company has in fact provided for long training sessions in virtual realitythrough the proprietary Virtual Reality Simulator Training software, to be administered to drone pilots. In this way it intends to address the cyclical controversies that are unleashed on the lack of preparation of the local police in case of adverse events.

The three laws of the correct use of SWAT drones, very similar to the three laws of robotics

And, in a very similar way to what happens with the three laws of robotics formulated by Isaac Asimov, Axon also proposes three rules to be respected in order to solve the ethical dilemma inherent in the use of drones.

Specifically, the first rule reads “decisions must always be made by a human, and all responsibilities fall on the latter“. In practice, drones must always be commanded by a human, who bears all responsibility for any act that brings consequences to another human being.

The second rule reads “the function of a drone must always be to safeguard human life, and not to end it“. The law intends to clarify that the operator driving the drone must work actively to avoid fatal consequences to a possible attacker, and that killing him, by means of the drone, must be the last resort.

The third rule, on the other hand, reads “agencies – in this case we are talking about the agencies that own and manage this type of drones – they have an obligation to be clear and transparent in the use of the drones themselves“. This translates, in practice, into drawing up public guidelines on the intervention of drones, which explain in detail when to use them, the perimeter of their intervention and the extent of their actions. Everything related to drones, including audio / video recordings of their interventions, must be public and always accessible.

The baptism of fire for the leatherhead drone is scheduled for 2023, with a long series of tests and simulations. Axon predicts that the first solutions could arrive on the market as early as 2024.


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