Robots could be fighting for the British Army by 2030, says top General, as autonomous drones are already used to hunt down and kill targets
British Army robots may be fighting the country’s enemy on battlefields by 2030, according to senior military official Gen Collins.
Writing in the British Army Review, the senior officer said that within seven years the first contact with a potential enemy on the battlefield should be made by a robot.
Such claims conjures up imagery of the Hollywood blockbuster Terminator, where autonomous robots killed without mercy while waging war against the human race.
But such fears are no longer science fiction. Autonomous or semi autonomous drones are already being used in warfare to hunt down, target and kill humans.
At the moment most drones and unmanned ground and sea vehicles require some human input. But that situation is likely to change and the conflict in Ukraine will increase the pace of the science around fully autonomy.
Robots may fight for Britain on battle fields by 2030, says General Collins
In Ukraine, the Russian Army has allegedly deployed artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled strike drones, such as the Kalashnikov ZALA and the Lancet. Both have some autonomous capability, such as being able to independently find and destroy a target.
Equally worrying, a 2020 United Nations report stated that the Turkish-made Kargu-2 attack drone had been used for the first time in combat during a battle between warring parties in war-torn Libya.
According to its manufacturer, the Kargu 2 can be operated both autonomously and manually and that purports to use ‘machine learning’ and ‘real-time image processing’ against its target.
In 2021, Israel launched an AI-guided drone swarm to carry out attacks on Hamas militants in what was believed to be a world-first use of the technology.
An Israeli Defence Force (IDF) support unit deployed the swarm to locate and target Hamas militants who had allegedly fired rockets into Israel.
Drones are typically guided by a human operator, but drone swarms represent a step forward in military technology by flying as one integrated network controlled by artificial intelligence.
Autonomous drones or robots cannot actually think for themselves. Instead, according to a Nato report , they are programmed with a large number of alternative responses to the different challenges they may meet in performing their mission.
Nato says: ‘This is not science fiction – the technology is largely developed though to our knowledge, no approved autonomous drone systems are yet operational. The limiting factor is not the technology but rather the political will to develop or admit to having such politically sensitive technology, which would allow lethal machines to operate without being under the direct control of humans.’