Bodycam Maker Axon Is on a Mission to Surveil America with AI

Axon, maker of Tasers and police body cameras, has acquired AI surveillance company Fusus amid a push into retail and healthcare settings.
Bodycam Maker Axon Is on a Mission to Surveil America with AI
Image via Axion 

Axon, maker of Tasers and police body cameras, has acquired a surveillance company that allows police to tap into camera networks in schools, retail stores, and other locations in cities and towns across America and apply AI technology to the footage. The move comes as Axon is trying to expand its cameras into retail and healthcare settings.   

Axon acquired Fusus for an undisclosed sum, according to a news release posted on Thursday. The acquisition “expands and deepens” the companies’ so-called real time capabilities. Fusus operates what it calls “real time crime centers (RTCC)” which allow police and other public agencies to analyze a wide array of video sources at a single point and apply AI that detects objects and people. These centers are reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Centers—where intelligence from a diverse number of sources is collected and shared among agencies—and have already expanded to over 250 cities and counties. 


“With Fusus, hospitals, schools, retail stores, houses of worship, event venues and residential communities—whole cities and towns—are better protected and, importantly, can contribute to greater safety for everyone,” an Axon blog on the Fusus acquisition states. 

Axon entered into a partnership with Fusus in 2022, which the company said would allow footage from Axon body cameras and drones to feed into Fusus’ surveillance systems. Since then, Axon has announced a push to expand its bodycam business into civilian settings. Last week, Axon announced a new line of cameras called Axon Body Workforce designed to be worn by workers in retail and in healthcare. While Axon did not explicitly mention the Workforce line of cameras in its announcement, the company said that the Fusus acquisition directly supports this push. 

“This [Fusus] acquisition also further catalyzes Axon's growing presence in retail, healthcare, private security and the federal space,” Axon’s press release said.


Axon, formerly TASER, Inc., has staked its entire business on body cameras and AI since it rebranded in 2017. Despite pushing the cameras as deterrents, data shows no evidence that they’ve been effective in reducing police violence or increasing transparency. 

The rise of Fusus is concerning to rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has raised alarm over the expansion of law enforcement’s ability to easily surveil Americans. Notably, the concept behind Fusus’ solution is similar to technology that has been deployed in South Africa for years, and which experts have said exacerbates inequality in the country. 

“Axon has been one of the major funders of Fusus for years, and Axon’s more recent body-worn camera models are designed to integrate with the Fusus platform,” EFF Investigative Researcher Beryl Lipton told Motherboard. “This acquisition signals the possibility of even greater expansion of real-time video surveillance and police surveillance in general, as well as Axon’s interest in facilitating local police use of real-time crime center capabilities.”

“Axon has many existing police relationships through its [body-worn camera] and Taser markets, and every city that has an existing contract with Axon should watch out for the attempt to expand the use of surveillance tools in their streets, not only through use of Fusus but through the other tools, like ALPR and drones, which have also been a key part of the Fusus model,” Lipton continued. “Axon and Fusus may be able to expand access to these technologies through contractual amendments rather than through a procurement process with appropriate opportunities for public oversight. Local governments should always be vigilant against allowing the adoption of privacy-invasive data collection and tools, but they must be extra alert now that adoption by bureaucracy, rather than through robust public consideration, is a strong possibility.”

Spokespeople for Axon weren’t immediately available to respond to a request for comment.