In 2015, a video showing a semi-automatic handgun being fired from a custom-built dronewent viral, raising concerns for authorities, including the FAA. The development of such a DIY device was only a matter of time, as was the commercialization of the technology. Now Florida-based startup Duke Robotics has unveiled the TIKAD, a custom-built multirotor that can carry and fire various military weapons, including semi-automatic rifles and grenade launchers.
Duke Robotics is co-founded by Raziel Atuar, a former Special Mission Unit commander in the Israel Defense Force who was inspired to develop this drone system after experiencing the difficulty of battling terrorist agents that operate within civilian populations. As we have seen in recent years, shooting missiles into populated areas frequently results in horrific collateral damage.
“The primary solution you are left with is sending in ground troops – but this shifts the risk to your troops, which often leads to injuries and casualties,” says Atuar. “But, we thought, ‘what if there was a better way’.”
TIKAD has been in development for several years and an early prototype, based on a consumer drone, was successfully deployed by the Israeli military to take out a target in 2015. Since then, the device has been refined and a proprietary stabilization system has been developed to absorb any recoil from the firing of a weapon.
In an interview with Defense One, Atuar states the current device can carry and fire a variety of different weapons up to a weight of 22 lb (10 kg), and the accompanying promotional video shows how the drone is remotely operated. A human still needs to be on the other end to control the drone and weapon – at least for now.
The idea of reducing both civilian and military casualties through the deployment of weaponized drones is, on one hand, an appealing prospect, but it’s also undeniable that the idea of a fleet of drones with machine guns flying through the air is absolutely horrifying.
The company is still seeking investors to expand its operations, but reports claim the Israeli military has already put in an order for an undisclosed number of the drones, and the company is pitching the system to the US military as well.