World Bulletin / News Desk
The maker of a drone that fires pepper spray bullets says it has received its first order for the machine.
After showing off the tech at a trade show South Africa-based Desert Wolf told the BBC it had secured the sale of 25 units to a mining company.
It is marketing the device as a "riot control copter" that can tackle crowds "without endangering the lives of security staff", but the International Trade Union Confederation is horrified by the idea.
"This is a deeply disturbing and repugnant development and we are convinced that any reasonable government will move quickly to stop the deployment of advanced battlefield technology on workers or indeed the public involved in legitimate protests and demonstrations," said spokesman Tim Noonan.
He added that the ITUC would now try to identify which company had ordered the drones.
"We will be taking this up as a matter of urgency with the unions in the mining sector globally," he added.
The machine can carry up to 4,000 bullets at a time as well as "blinding lasers" and on-board speakers that can communicate warnings to a crowd.
Noel Sharkey, chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control campaign group, is concerned that the deployment of such drones risks "creeping authoritarianism and the suppression of protest".
"Firing plastic balls or bullets from the air will maim and kill," he said.
"Using pepper spray against a crowd of protesters is a form of torture and should not be allowed.
"We urgently need an investigation by the international community before these drones are used."