World superpowers are engaged in a feverish “arms race” to develop the first killer robots completely removed from human control, the Sun Online can reveal.
These machines will mark a dramatic escalation in computer AI from the drones and robots currently in use, all of which still require a human to press the “kill button”.
In a series of exclusive interviews, leading experts told The Sun Online machines making life or death decisions will likely be developed within the next 10 years.
Leading experts say robots with the ability to kill targets of their own choosing are less than 10 years away from being a reality
Locked in this new race for military supremacy is Britain, the US, China, Russia and Israel – all of which have robot programmes of varying advancement.
Toby Walsh, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales, described the machines as “the next revolution in warfare”.
Unlike current drones or bomb disposal robots, they will be capable of tracking and killing people at their own discretion – a prospect he finds “terrifying”.
He said: “There’s an arms race between the US, China, Russia, the UK and Israel – they’re technologically the most developed countries.”
One such creation was a 132ft-long warship currently being trialled by the US Navy that acts as a fully autonomous submarine hunter.
With no crew to feed, it can cruise across oceans non-stop for up to three months.
Another is a self-driving tank being tested by Vladimir Putin’s military – which has the ability to select and kill anyone it deems an enemy.
“We will fairly soon have autonomous weapons that will target, track and kill without human involvement,” Dr Porter said.
“That is what happens at the minute (but) there’s still a human in the loop and from a military perspective, that’s the weak link. It would be much better – from a military perspective – if that is removed.”
One such robot currently in action is the Samsung SGR-1, an immobile device installed on South Korea’s side of the DMZ.