'Riot control drone' that shoots plastic bullets with 'real stopping power' goes on sale

South Africa makers Desert Wolf say they have already sold 25 units to unnamed mining companies

A drone capable of firing dye markers, pepper spray pellets and plastic bullets has been unveiled as the world’s first “riot control copter”.

The Skunk’ is also equipped with on-board speakers, thermal cameras and strobe lights.

The makers of the aircraft Desert Wolft say that they have already sold 25 units to unnamed companies in the mining industry and that it will be entering service between June and July this year.

The craft and a bundled ground control station costs 500,000 South African Rand (£27,500) and are controlled by two operators – one to navigate it and another to control the weaponry.

The company boasts that The Skunk has a capacity of 4000 bullets with “real stopping power” and that it is “designed to control unruly crowds without endangering the lives of security staff”.

A 3D model of The Skunk. Image: Desert Wolf

Speaking to the BBC, Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser said that the company was currently finalising a number of orders with a variety of customers.

 

“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,” said Kieser.

Desert Wolf supplies a range of drones including one designed to remotely sedate wildlife and others that can provide static surveillance and aerial photography.

Kieser told the BBC that non-lethal technology was safest and that South Africa could not afford “another Lonmin Marikana” – a reference to a 2012 strike in the country which ended in 44 deaths, the majority of whom were striking mineworkers.

The Skunk is not the first drone to be equipped with non-lethal weaponry, with a development studio named Chaotic Moon Studios showing off a proof-of-concept drone equipped with tasers earlier this year.

Noel Sharkey, chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control campaign group, told the BBC that the use of such drones risk “creeping authoritarianism and the suppression of protest.”

"Firing plastic balls or bullets from the air will maim and kill," he said. "Using pepper spray against a crowd of protesters is a form of torture and should not be allowed. We urgently need an investigation by the international community before these drones are used."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

    £29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

    Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

    £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

    Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

    £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness