Automatic killer robots – soon coming to a (war) theatre near you


Killer robots that automatically target and engage enemies sound like science fiction. I mean, it’ basically a description of the terminator, isn’t it?

Well, according to a recent article in the superbly named Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, that might be about to change.

“Drones and robots are enabled by embedded autonomous subsystems that keep engines in tune and antennas pointed at satellites, and some can navigate, walk, and maneuver in complex environments autonomously. But with few exceptions, the targeting and firing decisions of armed robotic systems remain tightly under the control of human operators. This may soon change,” author Mark Gubrud writes.

He points out that we already today have drones and missiles who are capable of hunt for, and decided is something – or someone – is a appropriate target. Another example is automated sentry systems that can detect and warn intruders to stand still on their own. If the intruder doesn’t comply, the systems can automatically engage him or her.

The next step is transferring these abilities to units capable of navigating autonomously in a theatre of war, which is, if you look at events at companies like Boston Dynamics, probably not as far off as you’d think.


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