Axon school security taser drones

Published: October 2022

On June 2, 2022 US taser manufacturer Axon announced it will develop taser-armed drones as part of a long-term plan to 'stop mass shootings' in the USA.

The drones would consist of miniature, lightweight tasers, and 'targeting algorithms' to help operators aim the device safely and incapacitate an active shooter within 60 seconds, the company said. Responders would be trained using virtual reality.

The announcement came days after the shooting of 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Critical response

The announcement prompted privacy advocates to express concerns about the safety of the drones, and that they would inevitably be employed against students, citizens, and others. It also raised concerns about student surveillance.

Transparency

The move also led to the resignation of nine of twelve members of Axon's AI Ethics Advisory Board, which said had not been consulted about the programme and had concerns about introducing weaponising drones in over-policed communities of colour.

The board had successfully halted previous product launches, including when Axon was considering introducing facial recognition technology to it's line of police-worn body cameras.

Within days, the company halted the project. It later formed a new Ethics and Equity Advisory Council, an 11-member group comprising a cross-section of academics, community organisers, and activists.

Operator:
Developer:
Axon
Country:
USA
Sector: Education
Purpose:
Strengthen security
Technology:
Drone; Computer vision
Issue:
Appropriateness/need; Effectiveness/value; Privacy; Surveillance; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

System reference

Research, audits, investigations, inquiries, litigation


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