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Saturday, August 12, 2017

US firm reveals gun-toting drone that can fire in mid-air

By Mary-Ann Russon for BBC News

11th August 2017

A US technology firm has developed a drone that is able to aim and fire at enemies while flying in mid-air. The Tikad drone, developed by Duke Robotics, is armed with a machine-gun and a grenade launcher. The gun can be fired only by remote control, and is designed to reduce military casualties by cutting the number of ground troops required. But campaigners warn that in the wrong hands, it will make it easier to kill innocent people. The Tikad drone, available for private sale at an undisclosed price, has won a security innovation award from the US Department of Defense, and there is interest from several military forces around the world, including Israel, reports Defense One. According to the firm's website, two of the three co-founders of Duke Robotics worked for the Israel Defense Forces and the third at Israel Aerospace Industries.

"As a former Special Mission Unit commander, I have been in the battlefield for many years," said CEO Raziel Atuar. "Over the last few years, we have seen how the needs of our troops in our battlefield have changed." However, robotics expert Professor Noel Sharkey expressed concern that gun-toting drones could make it easier to kill innocent people. "Big military drones traditionally have to fly thousands of feet overhead to get to targets, but these smaller drones could easily fly down the street to apply violent force," he told the BBC. "This is my biggest worry since there have been many legal cases of human-rights violations using the large fixed-wing drones, and these could potentially result in many more." For the past decade, Prof Sharkey has been campaigning against killer robots, which are fully autonomous, computer-powered weapons that would be able to track and select targets without human supervision. Together with the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of over 60 international NGOs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Nobel Women's Initiative, Sharkey has been lobbying the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons. However, the machine-gun on board the Duke Robotics device still has to be controlled remotely by a human operator.

According to Prof Sharkey, some US military officials are concerned that although the US might follow the laws of war, terrorists could easily look at drone innovations and copy the idea to kill innocent people. "We already know that Islamic State is using drones laden with explosives to kill people. What's to stop them from getting their hands on this? Copying has not been possible with big military drones, but once you get the idea that you can strap automatic weapons onto one and operate it remotely, that's very much easier," he said. "This type of weapon is another dangerous step towards the development of fully autonomous weapons that could hunt down targets and kill them without human supervision."

[Just because we’re not moving towards a Terminator-style world fast enough……… Here we have a technology that will give the US and its Allies a distinct combat advantage on the future battlefield – for about a month or possibly two before the enemy of the week start using them too. Either they will capture our drones and send them right back to us or repair downed drones to do likewise, buy them on the open market (or be given them by a technologically advanced ally) or probably build them themselves from plans downloaded from or stolen from the Internet…. And in 10-15 years they’ll be fully autonomous just to make things even more interesting – and just wait until the first one is used in an urban environment hundreds or thousands of miles away from the nearest battlefield. Welcome to the future of law enforcement, terrorism and assassination.....]


Stephen said...

This was used in that Drone novel I read a few months back...well, beats blowing g neighborhoods. One day we will have death by false positive face recognition!

CyberKitten said...

Stephen - That day isn't too far away. I'm waiting for a law banning the wearing of masks (or anything that obscures the face).

BTW - I'm about 150 pages into Future Crimes. I'm very seriously thinking of never 'upgrading' my old phone when it eventually dies!

Mudpuddle said...

i was listening to some Cab Calloway this morning and mulling about the technological difference between old '78's and cell fones... and drones... it's seriously mind boggling...

VV said...

I'm so tired of all the violence and constantly finding new ways to kill each other. 😔

CyberKitten said...

It does sadden me deeply just how much time, effort and money we waste as a planet working out ever more 'efficient' ways of killing each other. Just imagine if we stopped doing that???