New drone technology tested this summer proved the machines can fly by themselves, identify whether someone on the ground is armed, and differentiate between hostile and non-hostile targets, The New York Times reports.
The drone, developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is one advancement in the military’s focus on developing autonomous and artificially intelligent technology that can enhance war capabilities without fully replacing human control.
Most drones currently deployed by the military are flown by remote pilots, but DARPA’s new drone can fly itself. “It works with you,” Army Maj. Christopher Orlowski, a program manager at DARPA, told NYT. “It’s like having another head in the fight.” (RELATED: DoD Scrambles For Ways To Fight Armed ISIS Drones)
The drone could also be easily armed, and since it can differentiate between armed and unarmed subjects, could conceivably shoot targets without much human intervention. When that it comes to life and death decisions, “there will always be a man in the loop,” Work said.
The military isn’t trying to build a fully autonomous and intelligent robotic defense system like in the Terminator movies. “There’s so much fear out there about killer robots and Skynet,” Robert Work, undersecretary for defense, told the New York Times. “That’s not the way we envision it at all.”
The Pentagon envisions more of an Iron Man than a Terminator, Work said.
The proliferation of defense technology around the world means the U.S. military has to stay a step ahead of other militaries in terms of innovation. “What we want to do is just make sure that we would be able to win as quickly as we have been able to do in the past,” Work said. (RELATED: US Defense Strategy May Be On The Wrong Track, Leading Consultant Firm Says)
The Department of Defense invests billions every year in advanced systems that give an edge over adversaries around the world. “China and Russia are developing battle networks that are as good as our own,” Work said. “They can see as far as ours can see; they can throw guided munitions as far as we can.”
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