A Turning Point.  For the First Time, Autonomous Drones Attacked Humans


Kargu-2 drones under production at STM, Ankara, Turkey

The world’s first recorded case of an autonomous drone attacking humans took place in March 2020, according to a United Nations (UN) security report detailing the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War. Libyan forces used the Turkish-made drones to “hunt down” and jam retreating enemy forces, preventing them from using their own drones.

The field report…describes how the Haftar Affiliated Forces (HAF), loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, came under attack by drones from the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) forces. After a successful drive against HAF forces, the GNA launched drone attacks to press its advantage. From the report:

Logistics convoys and retreating HAF were subsequently hunted down and remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2 (above) and other loitering munitions. 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.

Drone experts have been dreading this moment while advocating for a ban on autonomous attack drones.

Once there is a ban on autonomous attack drones – after much breast beating and pledges of honesty – their use will continue. Of course.

This is, after all, a software question. The capacity for these drones to self-destruct after such a mission is often built-in. Once the command has been entered to hunt down and kill humans relying on the AI of the drone for decision-making, an additional command will be programmed-in instructing the drone to destroy itself afterwards. Starting with wiping the software.

One thought on “A Turning Point.  For the First Time, Autonomous Drones Attacked Humans

  1. Giulio Douhet says:

    (BBC April 21, 2021): “Mexico cartel used explosive drones to attack police : The drones are thought to be the latest weapons in a deadly war between the drugs cartel and the security forces and vigilantes opposed to them.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56814501

    Also: “…MILENIO [a major national newspaper in Mexico] has documented that organized crime groups, mainly the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation, have intensified in recent months the use of drones loaded with explosives to attack security institutions.
    This criminal group has used these devices most frequently in municipalities such as Tepalcatepec, Aguililla and Coalcoman, in the state of Michoacan, but also in the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato. This Wednesday, an armed group of the CJNG used drones in the communities of Taixtán and Plaza Vieja in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, leaving eight members of the army wounded, five of them seriously.” Translation of an article entitled: “SEDENA [The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense] seeks to create gas bullets to neutralize cartel drones” Milenio, November 12, 2021. http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2021/11/government-plans-to-fight-cartel.html

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