There have been 1,624 mass shootings in the U.S. in the past 1,870 days. Just this month, more than a dozen people died in a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
That’s according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which found that there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – nine out of every 10 days on average.
But drones could change that.
Leah La Salla, cofounder of Astral AR, sees a future where drones will be used to detect guns and prevent them from being used.
Astral AR is a drone company that is working on building a drone called Edna, which is equipped with sensors that can detect guns and bombs, even if they’re located behind walls. The drone uses X-Ray Vision, Object Identification and Anomaly Detection to spot the gun.
If a gun is shot at a drone, the drone has the ability to pulverize the bullet on impact, using a laser array to superheat the air in front of bullets. And, the drone is smart enough to move in front of the gun if it is shot.
“Once the hand starts moving toward the gun, the drone starts to respond,” La Salla said. “It will try to get close to the individual that has the gun in play. The whole point of the drone is to take the bullet for you.”
While other drone companies are focusing on burrito deliveries, La Salla has her sights set on saving the world from gun violence.
“It’s amazing to attack the wicked problems with a business model that actually works,” she said. “The world needs this drone.”
Astral AR had been running on just $600,000 over the past few years, La Salla said.
“It shouldn’t even have been possible, but we did it,” she said.
But investors are taking Astral AR seriously.
The defense dronemaker is a finalist in the Women Startup Challenge, a pitch competition cohosted by Google andw U.S.-based non-profit Women Who Tech that will give winning female entrepreneurs $50,000 toward their startups.
“I’ve seen the other companies and it’s not often Astral encounters other companies that can compete with what we’re doing,” La Salla said. “But now it looks like we’re up against stiff competition.”
La Salla said that whether or not she wins the startup challenge, she knows her product will be successful, given the need for more means of stopping gun violence in the wake of more mass shootings.
“You think about Las Vegas,” she said. “They needed our drones in Vegas that night. You think of Pulse nightclub. They needed these drones.”