Airborne riot control: pepper spray drone has first buyers

18 Jun 2014

A South African company is bringing riot control to the air with the first sales of the world’s first drone that fires pepper spray at rioters.

According to the BBC, the drone received a lot of attention at a trade fair in London, where the prototype was shown off and 25 examples of the craft were ordered, including an order placed by a mining company.

The company involved in the development of the drone, Desert Wolf, has dubbed the flying riot control machine the Skunk. The drone features four high-powered gas propelled chambers, each of which is capable of firing 20 pellets per second.

It is also capable of firing other similar-sized pellets, including paintballs and solid plastic balls with an ammunition capacity of 4,000 pellets.

While the company has not disclosed the recipients of these mobile projectile dispensers, Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser told the BBC that many of them are based in South Africa.

“Some (are) mines in South Africa, some security companies in South Africa and outside South Africa, some police units outside South Africa, and a number of other industrial customers.”

Understandably, human rights activists and trade union leaders are none too pleased with these developments and have said the drones are another example of an increasing authoritative power states and companies have over its citizens and employees.

Tim Noonan of the International Trade Union Confederation said, “This is a deeply disturbing and repugnant development and we are convinced that any reasonable government will move quickly to stop the deployment of advanced battlefield technology on workers, or indeed the public, involved in legitimate protests and demonstrations.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic