Weaponized Drone in Fully Autonomous Mode Hunts Down and Engages Human Target

The Kargu-2 is a loitering drone that operates autonomously, can track and engage targets on its own 1 photo
Photo: YouTube/STM
If you’re one for movie parallels, Skynet would approve of this: a highly weaponized “killer drone” that can operate in fully autonomous mode engaged human targets without input from command for the first time. In other words, a drone may have killed one or several people.
According to a recently uncovered UN report (hat tip to Gizmodo), this happened during a March 2020 incident between Libyan government forces and a military faction led by the Libyan National Army’s Khalifa Haftar. The report doesn’t mention whether the human targets became casualties, but it hints at this outcome.

The drone in question was a Kargu-2 quadcopter introduced in 2020 by Turkish company STM, designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist/counter-insurgency operations. It has two operating modes, manual and autonomous, and uses machine learning and real-time image processing for the latter. At the time, it “hunted down” and engaged the human targets, who were retreating by that time; it received no input from the command center, the report notes, and made the decision to attack all on its own.

The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya wrote in the report, as per the aforementioned media outlet.

Should casualties in the incident be confirmed, this will mark the first time a drone autonomously killed a person. It is a grim first and one that has the potential to change the way humanity conducts warfare significantly. It also raises ethical dilemmas and a variety of questions, including how accurate they are at correctly identifying targets.

In August last year, the Human Rights Watch warned of the need for legislation that would ban the so-called “killer robots,” but all talks were stalled by the opposition saying technology was not there yet. Since technology can’t allow for killer robots right now, it would feel premature to ban them, it was said.

Kargu-2, also described as a loitering drone, can be programmed to self-destruct upon impact. It can also be used in formation for a swarm of kamikaze drones and has facial recognition, which means it can seek out a particular target, whether static or mobile.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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