Drones Kill Without Human Control

Autonomous drones are now working as battlefield killers without human control. Theses military-grade drones can fly to a specific location, pick their own targets and kill without the assistance of a remote human operator.  Such weapons were known to be in development, but there were no reported cases of autonomous drones killing fighters on the battlefield. 

The Turkish built drone, a Kargu-2 quadcopter (pictured) was used in March 2020 during a conflict between Libyan government forces and a breakaway military faction led by Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army were deployed last year during an engagement between rival factions in the Libyan civil war and seem to have deliberately crashed into targets without being ordered to by a human, according to a report prepared for the United Nations.

The Kargu-2 is fitted with an explosive charge and the drone can be directed at a target in a kamikaze attack, detonating on impact.

The UN reports  describes how Haftar’s were “hunted down” as they retreated by Kargu-2 drones that were operating in a “highly effective” autonomous mode that required no human controller. “The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the report says.

There is no record of how many casualties the drone have inflicted, but “The unmanned combat aerial vehicles and the small drone intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability of HAF were neutralized by electronic jamming from the Koral electronic warfare system”. A spokesman at the US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism said this  could be the first time that drones have autonomously attacked humans. 

This development is cause for serious concern, given that AI systems can not always interpret visual data correctly. These events have renewed a debate among experts that goes to the heart of our problems confronting the rise of autonomous robots in war.

Business Insider:     NPR:      Unilad:     The Verge:   WIO News:     Daily Star:      United Nations:    The Defense Post:

Image: Ukranian Army

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