A Connecticut teenager named Austin Haughwout created a global stir a few months back when he posted a video of a homemade drone firing a handgun he had attached to the aircraft. Yesterday he upped the ante on weaponized aerial robots, posting a clip to YouTube of a drone with a flamethrower roasting a Thanksgiving turkey.
Like all smart YouTube creators, Haughwout leveraged his fame to entice #brands into paying to sponsor his content. In this case the video was backed by HobbyKing, an online retailer that sells all kinds of parts for DIY drones. No word on who provided the turkey, but the fuel pump for the flamethrower came from Amazon.
It's unclear if Haughwout's proclivity for attaching weapons to his drones is breaking any laws. The FAA has an open investigation into his use of a gun on a drone, but when contacted by The Verge, a spokeswoman said that for now it was leaving the question to local law enforcement. Local authorities also declined to pursue charges related to the drone, although Haughwout had a violent confrontation with police shortly after the video of a gun-firing drone was posted. Haughwout is currently fighting charges of assault and pursuing a lawsuit against local law enforcement.
Legal scholars who have written about the intersection of robotics and the Second Amendment view it as an open question. Do our robots have the right to bear our arms? For now only common sense and peer pressure from other angry drone enthusiasts are preventing people from weaponizing their drones.
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