The Russian ministry of defense, along with the Kalashnikov Concern, is working on self-guided combat drones. The drones will be equipped with cameras and guns, to identify and attack targets according to their on-board artificial intelligence.
“In the imminent future, the Group will unveil a range of products based on neural networks,” said the Kalashnikov Concern’s Sofiya Ivanova. “A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at the Army-2017 forum.”
The Kalashnikov Concern has long been much more than a small arms manufacturer. The company, restructured in 2014, is at the forefront of weapons technology. They make everything from missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to modern versions of their eponymous AK-47 rifle.
Early footage of a working model depicts a tank-like drone equipped with an autocannon as well as an active protection system. Of course the heart of the system is the artificial intelligence, which can be adapted to control any number of different weapons platforms.
The decision to produce automated weapons platforms is part of the Kalashnikov Concern’s plan to lead the future of weapons development. The company sees self-guiding drones as the future of warfare.
Currently the Kalashnikov Concern is showing off ground-based A.I.-controlled drones, but the company sees a future for these machines on all fronts.
“There is a need to look for new market niches such as electronic warfare systems, small submarines, and robots,” said the Center for Strategic International Studies’ Sergey Denisentsev. “That will require strong promotional effort because a new technology sometimes finds it hard to find a buyer and to convince the buyer that he really needs it.”
They’re not alone. The Russian Strategic Missile Force already stated their intent to deploy sentry drones to automate their security systems. The agency is working on drones that not only identify but also shoot at intruders.
In the U.S. a handful of defense and security firms are working on combat drones as well. A.I. developers have already shown that machine-controlled aerial drones can out-fly manned aircraft. In Africa, conservation groups are looking toward security drones to combat elephant and rhinoceros poaching.
Domestic policy forbids the use of automated weapons on drones. While American deployment of combat drones is common, all use of lethal force requires a human supervisor.
It’s clear that going into the future drones will roll, hover and stroll along with humanity. Artificial intelligence is already being used to assist drivers, police officers and firefighters. With help from the Kalashnikov Concern, drones are now going to assist warfighters — not as pack mules, but fellow soldiers.
What do you think? Live-saving squadmates, or the start of Skynet?