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Robot warfare and autonomous weapons, the next step from unmanned drones, are already being worked on by scientists and will be available within the decade, said Dr Noel Sharkey, a leading robotics and artificial intelligence expert and professor at Sheffield University. He believes that development of the weapons is taking place in an effectively unregulated environment, with little attention being paid to moral implications and international law.
According to the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, ICRAC, almost 50 countries either already have or are developing war robots. The committee fears that advances in robotic systems will lead to more countries committing to war, since robots would be taking the place of humans on the battlefield.
The German Institute for International and Security Affairs SWP, has recently expressed concerns about the trend towards automated combat in the report "Combat Drones – Killing Drones. A Plea against Flying Robots".
In November 2012 Human Right Watch published "Losing Humanity", a 50-page report outlining concerns about fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.
Big brother's drone eyesA PBS' "Nova" program on January 23, entitled "Rise of the Drones," featured Dr. John Antoniades, technical group director for ISR Exploitation Technologies in the Technology Solutions business area. The show explored the cutting edge technologies that are writing a new chapter in aviation history, including ARGUS-IS, or the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, which flies aboard an unmanned helicopter. Developed collaboratively by Technology Solutions and ISR Solutions, this 1.8-Gigapixel camera has the most powerful real-time, high-resolution video sensor, enabling unprecedented capability in finding, tracking and monitoring events in real time.