Killer robots instead of soldiers?

By on May 22, 2013

Increasingly, drones and robots are being used in combat to replace soldiers in high-risk situations. Some researchers and politicians are concerned that, in future, autonomous machines may reign over life and death.

A Pentagon video shows a fighter jet taking off from a US aircraft carrier. At first glance, the maneuver is unspectacular. A second glance, however, reveals a detail that is not necessarily conspicuous: The X-47B stealth fighter has no cockpit, it is an unmanned drone.

According to the US Navy, drone technology has reached another milestone with the first take-off of a drone the size of a fighter jet from an aircraft carrier. It is a further step toward increasingly independent unmanned weapons systems.

Soldiers of the future

More than 70 countries already use unmanned drones – aerial vehicles that are capable of gathering intelligence, or seeking and, if necessary, eliminating targets. At present, the latter decision is still made by human operators via remote control. Human decision-making, however, seems to be waning, while unmanned fighter robots act increasingly on their own. The pilotless aircraft can already be programmed to maneuver completely autonomously. The X-47B drone is still being tested, but once it is ready for action, the aircraft will be able to conduct missions largely autonomously and without human control.

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