Drone Company Wants To Sell Cops A Drone That Can Break Windows, Negotiate With Criminals

from the did-we-mention-it-breaks-windows dept

A drone manufacturer really really wants cops to start inviting drones to their raiding parties. This will bring "+ whatever" to all raiding party stats, apparently. BRINC Drones is here to help... and welcomes users to question the life choices made by company execs that led to the implementation of this splash page:

If these cops don't really look like cops to you, you're not alone. And by "you," I also mean BRINC Drones, which apparently wants to attract the warriors-in-a-war-zone mindset far too common in law enforcement. BRINC has a new drone -- one that presents itself as warlike as its target audience.

Drones are definitely an integral part of the surveillance market. BRINC wants to make them an integral part of the "drug raids and standoffs with reluctant arrestees" market. Sure, anyone can smash a window. But how cool would it be if a drone could do it?

The LEMUR is built by BRINC Drones to help police locate, isolate, and communicate with suspects. It has an encrypted cellphone link for two-way communication and can right itself if it crashes upside down. But it’s that remarkable glass smasher that sets it apart from the many other police drones we’ve seen.

BRINC says the 5-inch blade has tungsten teeth and can spin at up to 30,000 RPM. It’s enough to break tempered, automotive, and most residential glass. It’s an add-on feature to the drone, but it can be quickly attached with three thumb screws.

Whatever tactical gains might be made by a two-way communication device for negotiations will presumably be undone by the Black Mirror-esque destruction of windows by a remotely controlled flying nuisance. Assuming the suspect isn't able to, I don't know, throw a coat over the drone, negotiations will proceed between the human person and the bug-like drone sitting on the ground in front of them.

And let's not underplay the window-smashing. Cops do love them some broken windows. Break a window, justify your policing, as the old "broken windows" philosophy goes. "Command presence" is the term often deployed to excuse the physical destruction that precedes physical violence by police officers. Disorient and disarm. That's why cops smash all the doors and windows they can when raiding houses.

But if you give cops a specialized tool that is cheap to buy and cheap to replace, it will swiftly move from a last resort to Plan A. Case in point: flashbang grenades. These are not harmless weapons. They are war weapons designed to disorient lethal forces. Instead of being used in only the most desperate of situations, they're used as bog standard raid initiators. That's how they end up in the beds of toddlers, resulting in severe burns -- something the involved cops claimed was an innocent mistake. How could they have know the house might have contained children, they said stepping over a multitude of children's toys scattered across the lawn of the house they were raiding.

This drone will become as common as a flashbang grenade if they're cheap enough to obtain. The difference between a severely burned toddler and a flayed toddler is something the courts will get to sort out. And no matter how the court decision goes for cops, no one can put the skin back on injured toddlers. "By any means necessary," say drug warriors, forgetting the Constitution and a bunch of other state-level safeguards are in place to supposedly prevent the ends from justifying the means.

But there's even more here. And the "more" is inadvertently hilarious. BRINC claims its drone can open doors. But that's only true if by "open" you mean "make incrementally more open." Check out the drone "opening" a door in this BRINC promotional video.

LOL.

It gets funnier when you add physics to the mix. BRINC promises cops a warlike machine. Science says theses drones can be swiftly turned from aggressors to victims simply by allowing the drones to operate in the advertised manner.

Viewers of Battlebots know if a whirling blade comes into contact with a stationary object, at least SOME of the energy is absorbed by the blade. A 2.4-pound drone would be knocked reeling from a 30,000 rpm collision. The video doesn’t actually show that moment of impact, but the fact it hits the floor upside down suggests there’s no fancy electronics or damping to keep it stable.

Sure, we can laugh at this now. And we can hope our local law enforcement officials aren't so taken in by a presentation that keeps its boots slick with saliva. But tech will keep moving forward and BRINC's fantasies will edge closer to reality.

But what we have to ask ourselves (and hope our government agencies will consider) is how much this actually might subtract from the deadly human costs of police-citizen interactions. Sending a drone smashing through a window hardly sounds like de-escalation, even if the end result is a walkie-talkie hitching a ride on a modded tech toy. There's still a lot of intrinsic value in human interactions. Putting a flying buffer between law enforcement and those they're attempting to "save" sounds like a recipe for more violence, rather than less. The physical approach of dystopia through a recently shattered window is hardly calming, especially for those already on edge.

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Filed Under: breaking windows, drones, law enforcement, lemur, police, warrior cop
Companies: brinc drones


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  • identicon
    Jason, 24 Mar 2021 @ 1:49pm

    Only criminals latch their doors closed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 2:33pm

    A phone link in a drone outside a building is an invitation to get shot, and who in their right minds would approach naked blender blades to speak into a phone. if it could fly through the window it shattered and drop a phone, it could as easily drop a flash bang or tear gas grenade.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 2:36pm

    "Viewers of Battlebots know if a whirling blade comes into contact with a stationary object, at least SOME of the energy is absorbed by the blade."

    OOH YEAHH!!

    and I say that from direct experience (as in helping make those bots safe after the hits on the show, both the hitter and hittee were often severely damaged)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      K`Tetch (profile), 26 Mar 2021 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      So, I ran the numbers.
      (and by that, I mean I had to investigate, and then model the device. Luckily, being one of the former tech/safety guys on BattleBots, it's not that hard for me.

      My estimates were that it was between 300 and 600J stored in the flywheel (depends on the bar material), and it gets up to speed in about 1.8s (which I know, as I also found the motor they're using).
      For comparison, a .32 H&R Magnum is 300J of muzzle energy, while on the upper end, it's around a .38 super.

      And depending at the speed the drone is flying at (they show it inching into glass slowly, which isn't good for such a high speed weapon) at 30mph (its capable of 50) that bar could have an inch of penetration.

      It's trying to skirt around it being very much an antipersonnel weapon, by marketing it as a glass-breaker (because weapons on drones are a no-no, but there are far better, simpler and more effective ways to break glass (in one of their demonstrations, it shows it bounce off a window)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 2:47pm

    Coming soon to the close-out section of a Walmart near you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 3:26pm

    Like sticking your face in a blender

    BRINC says the 5-inch blade has tungsten teeth and can spin at up to 30,000 RPM. It’s enough to break tempered, automotive, and most residential glass. It’s an add-on feature to the drone, but it can be quickly attached with three thumb screws.

    Now imagine what something capable of doing that to glass will do to flesh, because I have no doubt that if police start using drones capable of breaking glass those blades can and will end up being used on people, both accidentally and 'accidentally'. Police already beat, mace and shoot people simply because they can and want to, if anyone thinks that they won't use what amounts to a flying blender against people then they are being extraordinarily naive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 24 Mar 2021 @ 3:50pm

    "Our window-breaking drones have been wildly popular with law enforcement, but unfortunately far too often, the suspects disable or destroy the drones rather than negotiate. Which is why our new line of drones will come with not only the capability to break windows, but it will also be able to carry a firearm. Now police will be able to subdue suspects from the safety of their armored personnel carrier outside. Coming soon from BRINC!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 4:47pm

      Re:

      but unfortunately far too often, the suspects disable or destroy the drones rather than negotiate.

      ... so why didn't you set the drone up to vibrate the window to communicate? The suspect would then do all the glass breaking needed ... if any were needed.

      And hey, glass! It's like transparent and stuff! You can use the drone camera to view the room for hidden threats and all that!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2021 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Now police will be able to subdue suspects from the safety of their armored personnel carrier outside.

      Well, no-one cared when it was children in the middle east being shot and killed by drone strikes. To the point that said children feared the blue sky because it meant drones could fly that day. Of course they'd decide to use it in the US. Now the cops can be actual terrorists! Terrorizing the US citizenry the same way they terrorized children in the Corps. From the safety of a well fortified and gaurded command bunker, never having to even know the names of the people, oh fun-sized terrorists my mistake, they kill at the push of a button.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 24 Mar 2021 @ 4:30pm

    New movie

    Drono-Cop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 12:38am

    How much time to they give you to comply? 20 seconds?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 5:07am

    And the first time it's used, the hostage taker will hear glass breaking, assume the cops are attacking and start shooting... And the cops won't be held responsible, nor the drone makers, it was all an unexpected tragedy! Who could have foreseen startling an already unstable person would end in bloodshed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 6:43am

      Re:

      "Who could have foreseen startling an already unstable person would end in bloodshed?"

      You're being charitable assuming there's an actual unstable person involved. More likely, they go to the wrong house and kill a homeowner defending themselves against an unexpected invasion, as has happened many times with "normal" police raids.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 6:05am

    "encrypted cellphone link"

    OMG I guess the criminals are going dark.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 9:08am

    Drones

    Something tells me many police departments would LOVE to deploy one of these on drug raids.

    https://cms-assets.theasc.com/Terminator-2-026-Featured.jpg?mtime=20191031123303

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2021 @ 2:26am

    drone

    they already use them for traffic stops and other things that the FCC has told them NO to! oh that's right the blue lies mafia don't need to follow the LAW!

    of coarse the last thing the blue lies mafia needs is MORE weapons and toys to use and abuse! they already have WE THE PEOPLE to abuse without accountability.....

    up next a wall penetrating drone. just aim at wall and shoot. robot goes inside and has full array of weaponry to be misused as usual....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Josh, 27 Mar 2021 @ 12:16pm

    Al alternative perspective

    As with anything in life, there are trade-offs. Could the BRINC drone harm an innocent household member? Of course. But could it not prevent a fatal shooting like the one Breonna Taylor was killed in? I suspect it could.

    Thus far there is no empirical proof as to whether more or fewer injuries/fatalities will result from this form of warranted forceful entry. In calling for police reform, which the majority of American's now believe is necessary, must we be so discouraging of an untried alternative?

    The average police officer wants to protect the citizenry. Average citizens depend on law enforcement to protect them. If the goal is maximizing a sense of security and minimizing unnecessary death, we must evaluate change with level-heads to arrive at improving solutions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2021 @ 6:20am

      Re: Al alternative perspective

      But could it not prevent a fatal shooting like the one Breonna Taylor was killed in?

      No, because it is being used by the the ones responsible for that shooting, the cops, who went in expecting opposition. It will only be deployed when the cops expect trouble, and I predict its main use will be clearing the way for flash bangs and tear gas to be tossed into the house.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Josh, 29 Mar 2021 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re: Al alternative perspective

        I recognize this is an internet forum, but I expect a more nuanced answer. How can you unequivocally state "No". This assumption presumes ALL police officers will use it for more harm than good - a statistical impossibility. Officers, like many humans, innately value self-preservation; in other words, they don't want to die! If they had a live-feed video of not just Taylor but her armed boyfriend, they would not have entered. They wanted to live. In this case, that desire to live may have saved the life of an innocent bystander: Breonna Taylor.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2021 @ 7:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Al alternative perspective

          There are lots of drones available that carry a camera, and can be used to take a through windows. Going to the extent of breaking a window is an aggressive act, and only improves you view inside the room if you fly the drone through the window. Note that curtains are enough to bring a drone down, and doors limit where the drone can go. Also, flying a drone of that size in an occupied build in a reckless act, in that it risks injury to to people. Also, using such a drone loses any element of surprise, so unless the cops are already in position for a forced entry, they will have to approach a building with alerted suspects inside.

          Such a drone is a tool for those whose starting position is that they are attacking an enemy, which is at the root of so many instances of cops shooting people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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