Groups concerned over arming of domestic drones

May 25, 2012

Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas said his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone, CBS DC reports.

“Drone manufacturers are also considering offering police the option of arming these remote-controlled aircraft with (nonlethal for now) weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas,” the ACLU says on their website.

Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU, feels one of the biggest problems with the use of drones is the remote location where they are operated from. “When the officer is on the scene, they have full access to info about what has transpired there. An officer at a remote location far away does not have the same level of access.”

The ACLU is also worried about potential drones malfunctioning and falling from the sky, adding that they are keeping a close eye on the use of these unmanned aircraft by police departments.

According to new FAA rules, police departments across the U.S. are allowed to operate remote drones weighing up to 25 pounds in U.S. airspace, and can be equipped with infrared sensors and high-resolution cameras — for now.

Also see: Swarms of tiny intelligent drones with cameras — what could go wrong?