AI Security Company Backtracks On UK Testing Claims

evolv ai weapons scanner

Security company Evolv backtracks on claims UK government tested its controversial AI security scanning systems

Massachusetts-based Evolv, which makes AI-powered security systems that are designed to replace to metal detectors, has backtracked on claims that its systems were tested by the UK government.

The controversial firm, which is under investigation by multiple US regulators, told the BBC it altered its claims about UK testing to “better reflect the process taken”.

Evolv has previously been criticised for overstating the capabilities of its technology, notably after a 2022 stabbing in a Utica, New York school that used its systems.

Utica superintendent of schools Brian Nolan said investigation determined the “Evolv Weapon Detection System… was not designed to detect knives”.

evolv ai weapons scanner
Image credit: Evolv

Inaccurate claims

The SEC launched an investigation into Evolv in February while the company said last October the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was investigating its marketing practices.

Evolv’s systems, which use AI to identify the “signatures” of concealed guns, knives and bombs, are used in stadiums and hundreds of schools in the US, as well as the Manchester Arena.

The firm said in a 20 February press release including claims the UK government’s National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) was one of a number of testers who  had “concluded that the Evolv Express solution was highly effective at detecting firearms and many other types of weapons”.

But the BBC found the NPSA does not conduct this type of testing.

‘Not correct’

In response to the BBC’s query, Evolv said: “After discussion with NPSA, we updated the language used in the February 20 press release to better reflect the process taken.”

It said an independent UK company had “tested and validated” Evolv’s system using NPSA standards.

But the company in question, Metrix NDT, told the BBC it was “not correct to say we ‘validated’ the system”.

The company did carry out tests on Evolv’s technology but said it “is not within our remit to pass any value judgements on the results”.


Evolv has been aggressively expanding into US schools amidst increasingly frequent attacks involving guns and knives, but testing reported last year found the system failed to detect 42 percent of large knives in 24 walkthroughs.

The company has encouraged schools to replace metal detectors with its systems, which can cost millions of dollars.

The Intercept found last year that more than 65 US school districts had bought or tested AI gun detection from a range of companies since 2018, spending $45 million (£36m).

Proctor High School in Utica, where the 2022 knife attack took place, has since replaced Evolv’s system with 10 metal detectors and is suing the company.