Police in the northern Indian city of Lucknow just added a controversial new weapon to their arsenal: crowd control drones.
The drones will be armed with pepper-spray for crowd dispersal and will be used to capture pictures and surveillance footage of possible suspects as well.
“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kilogram weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble,”
says Yashasvi Yadav, Senior Superintendent of Police in Lucknow.
Authorities have already been using drones to monitor troubled areas in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, but this is the first time that drones will be deployed for actual crowd control in India.
The city decided to buy the drones after testing them out during a number of large festivals last year.
“We had used drone cameras and they were so effective that we have decided to purchase them instead of hiring them,”
Crowd control drones are also becoming popular in the private sector.
Last May, Desert Wolf — a drone manufacturer based in Pretoria, South Africa — unveiled its Skunk Riot Control Copter at the IFSEC security exhibition, which was held just outside of Johannesburg.
The drone is equipped with four paintball guns capable of shooting pepper spray balls or solid plastic balls at a rate of up to 80 per second.
Desert Wolf says that their aim is to, “assist in preventing another Marikana,” referring to a tragic incident in 2012 that left 44 people dead after a strike at a platinum mine in South Africa turned violent. Autopsies showed that many of the dead were shot in the back by police while trying to flee.
Desert Wolf has already sold 25 of its drones to a mining firm in South Africa, though they chose not to identify the company by name.
Read the original story from RT.
Edit (4/7): A representative from Desert Wolf reached out to us to clarify that the drones to be used in Lucknow are not manufactured by them. Their statement is below:
“Desert Wolf South Africa has NOT sold any of our units to India as yet. Our systems is much larger than what is in these latest reports, lifting more than 20 KG and we only sell to customers who wants at least 50 units – serious and professional users. We will be at the LAAD military exhibition in Rio de Janeiro from 14 April to 17 April on the South African pavilion.”