In 1993, Axon – a Scottsdale-based company focused on creating new technologies that enable people to protect themselves – was founded by two brothers who had the desire to make the world a safer place.
Axon, originally named TASER International, started selling tasers but later transitioned to selling anything law enforcement agencies may need.
“I started as a 23-year-old idealist working in an inventor’s garage in Tucson, desperate to bring to market the technology that would become our TASER weapons,” Rick Smith, Axon founder and CEO, said. “I couldn’t have predicted how our product and the company itself would evolve, but I’m incredibly proud of how it has. 23 years and 180,000 lives saved later, I’m more excited than ever by our mission to protect life and the impact we can continue to make in the world.”
Now, the company is leading the way in robotic technology.
Almost a decade ago, Axon started using robots to assemble its Taser cartridges, boosting its output by four times and leading a $370 million industry.
Since Axon began to use automated manufacturing the company has bought $18 million in automated equipment, including three collaborative robots, an autonomous cart, etc.
“Automation in manufacturing helps us scale to the ever-growing demand in our industry,” Axon told Chamber Business News. “[In 2009], we had about 120 manufacturing personnel, and today we employ 420 manufacturing personnel. Automation has helped us scale our business from less than $100 million to more than $400 million in revenue, and our workforce has grown considerably along the way.”
Around the same time, Axon became a global leader in other connected public safety technologies and started selling body-worn cameras, point-of-view cameras, in-car cameras, and digital evidence management systems.
The company also created its own cloud system – evidence.com – to store all the data from their equipment.
“Ten years ago, we started selling our body-worn cameras together with a cloud software solution that not only stores all of the collected data but allows for easy management by putting it into a streamlined workflow,” Axon PR Associate Madeline Macleod said. “When it comes to managing the data that comes in from body-worn cameras, cloud storage has proven to be hugely beneficial to agencies.”
In 2017, the company created Axon Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the intent to bring AI to public safety, later launching a first-of-its-kind AI ethics board, which will help guide the development of the company’s AI-powered devices and services and opened a center for AI data training.
“Axon is focused on developing AI that will simplify the writing of police reports based on body-worn camera footage and make the footage that is already stored within the Axon Evidence platform searchable based on objects and actions that our software detects within the video,” Macleod said.
Their AI development analyzes data in the cloud and builds algorithms teaching the system how to perform manual, labor-intensive behaviors. The ethics board’s mission is to help guide the AI team and pay attention to how the technology impacts communities.
According to Forbes Magazine, “Axon…demonstrated the kind of transparency that Google should aspire towards when it announced an AI ethics board.”
This year Axon wants to evolve its camera offerings, allowing them to play a role in situational awareness and safety for police officers.
Axon said that its next-generation body camera will “have the ability to send real-time alerts and stream video to help ensure greater officer safety,” meaning agencies will receive immediate safety alerts. It will also allow officers to review video over LTE and upload wirelessly.
“The Axon Body 3 marks the growth of body-worn camera technology beyond evidence collection into promoting safety and connectedness for officers and communities,” Macleod said.