Crowds of protesters could soon come under attack from riot control drones outfitted with paintball guns, strobe lights, and speakers. The Skunk Riot Control Copter, built by South African company Desert Wolf, has a suite of cameras and four paintball guns strapped to its chassis to help its operators monitor and control unruly crowds. The guns can fire ammunition from four different hoppers, meaning the drone operators can shoot protesters with dye markers, solid plastic pellets, or small capsules of pepper spray.
Defence Web says that a full drone system — including high definition and thermal vision cameras, the eight-rotored drone itself, and a ground control station — will cost around 500,000 South African Rand ($46,000). The device is controlled by two people: a pilot, and a payload operator who controls the drone's suite of weaponry. These operators will be monitored on duty by camera and microphone, an activity that Hennie Kieser, Desert Wolf's director, says will ensure they aren't too aggressive.
The four mounted paintball guns can use pepper spray ammunition
The first batch of drones will reportedly be deployed to mines in South Africa later this month, where lengthy strikes at some of the country's biggest facilities have resulted in violence. Mine owners hope that the drones will be able to control and subdue their workers by blasting them with flashing lights, blaring messages of control, and shooting them from the sky. Kieser says he hopes its success in the country will lead to more orders for the gun-toting drone.