Police are increasingly using drones these days to snoop on activists and track down demonstrators plus the occasional criminal. Now Indian police are going to use them for riot control by loading up the aerial gizmos with pepper spray.
Lucknow police have bought four of the offensive drones for use in crowd control, and each one can carry a two-kilogram payload of irritants to dispense over unruly crowds. Traditionally, police in the area have relied on long canes, known as lathis, to keep people in check – but are now going for a more high-tech approach (assuming someone in the crowd isn't a good shot with a handy rock).
"We are planning to use these drones to control unruly mobs by showering them with pepper spray," said Yashasvi Yadav, senior superintendent of the Lucknow police, The Indian Express reports. "This will be less harsh measure than the lathi-charge and we hope it will be more effective."
Of course, riots involving the need for police control aren't that common, so in the meantime the drones will be deployed on traffic patrol duty, he explained. But the lifting capacity of the drones is such that they can be quickly landed and repurposed with barrels of pepper spray to bring tears to the eyes of those causing trouble.
The radio-controlled drones are equipped with eight propellers, can reach a height of 600 metres, and can fly within a one kilometre radius of its pilot. The force hired the machinery at first, but has now decided it's more cost effective to buy the drones and run them themselves.
The announcement does have some worried that the police will use the technology to crack down unnecessarily, but this was always likely to happen. It won't be long before America's famously restrained and violence-averse police forces get in on this game. ®