Axon was founded on our mission to protect life. All of us here at Axon are focused on identifying solutions that can stop mass shootings and save lives. We are constantly challenging ourselves to think differently and outside the box because too many families and communities have endured unspeakable tragedy.
We recently introduced new ideas and concepts to achieve these objectives. One of them is an early-stage concept that we felt was worthy of exploring further and to share into the important public debate that is happening. This concept is to use non-lethal drones with TASER weapon capabilities, pre-installed in public spaces, that may able to stop a mass-shooting in a matter of minutes. We felt it was important to have a conversation about this potential technology transparently with the public.
Our announcement was intended to initiate a conversation on this as a potential solution, and it did lead to considerable public discussion that has provided us with a deeper appreciation of the complex and important considerations relating to this matter. I acknowledge that our passion for finding new solutions to stop mass shootings led us to move quickly to share our ideas.
However, in light of feedback, we are pausing work on this project and refocusing to further engage with key constituencies to fully explore the best path forward.
I want to be explicit: I announced a potential delivery date a few years out as an expression of what could be possible; it is not an actual launch timeline, especially as we are pausing that program. A remotely operated non-lethal TASER-enabled drone in schools is an idea, not a product, and it’s a long way off. We have a lot of work and exploring to see if this technology is even viable and to understand if the public concerns can be adequately addressed before moving forward.
Pursuing an extended research path is just one element of getting this right.
We are also committed to enhancing our processes to better leverage alternative opinions to fuel our learning and innovation. This includes views from our ethics advisory panel, which can provide deeper insight into our constituencies and can inform solutions that accomplish our goal of saving lives while also balancing the important interests of our different stakeholders.
Making the world a safer place is a big task, and there are complicated issues we need to address. It is unfortunate that some members of Axon’s ethics advisory panel have chosen to withdraw from directly engaging on these issues before we heard or had a chance to address their technical questions. We respect their choice and will continue to seek diverse perspectives to challenge our thinking and help guide other technology options that we should be considering.
We value the feedback we received following our announcement. We don’t have all the answers, but we will listen and learn so that we can fulfill our mission to protect life, together.