Indian police recently purchased five drones so they could dump pepper spray on protesters during political demonstrations. The police force in Lucknow, India (population two million) is prepping the drones to start releasing pepper spray as a form of crowd control, starting next month.
Yashasvi Yadav, police chief of Lucknow, said his officers have successfully test-flown the newly purchased drones with a view to better crowd control.
"The results were brilliant. We have managed to work out how to use it to precisely target the mob in winds and congested areas," Yadav told AFP.
Law enforcement all over the world, including in the United States, are using drones as a policing tool. Mostly, they're getting prepped as surveillance tools. This is the first case where a drone has been weaponised in this way for use against the public. But it's highly unlikely to be the last.
Drone makers have been preparing and marketing domestic surveillance drones as potential weapons for years already. Vanguard Defence Industries, for instance, has been touting its ability to provide cops with drones that shoot tear gas, buckshot, and grenades since 2012. And using drones as more than just surveillance tools is something that some law enforcement in the US are considering. Some police departments have been actively discussing incorporating weaponised drones into their arsenal.
Now, what flies in Uttar Pradesh won't necessarily get the same approval in the US, but the introduction of this kind of domestic weapon drone internationally underlines that these unmanned aircraft are explicitly being designed for police crowd control.