...Police say the cartridge could pose a risk, especially if it's placed in a pocket. A build-up of static [electricity] could activate the cartridge, causing the probes to be propelled.[via TNT]
Seeing this report reminds me that the product designers and management of Taser International have expended very little of their rather limited supply of intellectual capabilities on the task of embedding safety features into their products.
For example, if the pyrotechnic device is so sensitive that there's a risk of it being triggered by static electricity, then why not design the cartridge with a shorting device (short circuiting the two terminals) that is only opened when the cartridge is installed onto the taser?
Even considering the extremely high voltages involved, I can still imagine about a half-dozen different conceptual mechanisms that could accomplish this at next to zero cost.
Another example: if you want to eliminate the risk that the darts would be propelled when the cartridge is not installed on the taser gun, then you simply design the pressure channel (running from the pyrotechnic device / CO2 cylinder to the dart cavities) so that it is completed by the interface with the front of the gun itself. A loose cartridge would thus be open to the atmosphere and therefore inherently incapable of firing the darts. It would be inherently safe unless it was installed on the taser gun.
The design of the interface would have to consider the pressures involved, but it's not Rocket Science.
That they apparently haven't included enough safety features to render loose cartridges safe reflects on their entire approach.
By the way, I'm still curious about how much of the muzzle velocity comes from the CO2 cylinder and how much comes from the pyrotechnic devices. I wouldn't put it past them that the CO2 cartridge is primarily a decorative prop to distract firearms regulators. After all, how much pyrotechnic does it require to pry open a CO2 cartridge, as compares to shooting a couple of darts 20 or 30 feet?
Perhaps I'm being too suspicious...
But perhaps an investigator with time on their hands could drill a little hole (carefully) to release the CO2 and then compare the muzzle velocities and range relying on just the pyrotechnic device.