The company behind Taser weapons has abandoned plans to supply drones with stun guns to schools in the wake of the Uvalde shootings, after several advisers resigned in protest.
Earlier this month, Axon Enterprise chief executive Rick Smith published a blog post titled “how non-lethal armed drones can help tackle school shootings.” study”, in which he argued that the devices “could help prevent the next Uvalde, Sandy Hook or Columbine”.
The idea of a drone that first responders could use to fire from a distance at a target 12m (40ft) away was announced after shooting in Uvalde, Texasin which 19 primary school students and two teachers were killed.
In response, on Monday, nine of the 12 members of the company’s ethics advisory board resigned over concerns about the scheme, as first reported by Reuters.
Board members said they dropped out because of concerns that drones would harm heavily regulated communities and to protest that Axon announced its plans without asking their opinion.
Mr Smith said in a statement: “In response to feedback, we are pausing work on this project and refocusing to continue engaging with key constituencies to fully explore. the best way forward”.
Mr. Smith previously wrote a graphic novel depicting a drone with a Taser weapon stopping a school shooter at a daycare center.
According to Reuters, Axon first approached its ethics panel more than a year ago about the drone idea, and the panel voted eight to four against piloting the technology for police.
Even so, Axon has made a public statement about the technology “because it said it wanted to overcome the ‘fruitless debates’ about guns in the wake of the Uvalde shootings,” Reuters reported.
In an interview, a panel member warned that drones “could exacerbate racial injustice, undermine privacy through surveillance, and become more dangerous.” if other weapons are added,” it added.
“What we have right now is just dangerous and irresponsible,” said Wael Abd-Almageed, an associate professor of engineering studies at the University of Southern California.
Resigning board members said in a statement the idea of a drone with a stun gun was “to distract society from practical solutions to a tragic problem carpet”.
Axon’s CEO suggested that the drones would be mounted in hallways and be able to move into rooms through special vents – he said the system would cost $1,000. £800) per year for school.