Autonomous drones have attacked people for the first time, according to a United Nations report.
Last year, rebels in Libya were bombarded by “unmanned combat aircraft and deadly autonomous weapon systems,” the report said.
The drones can be manually controlled, but in this encounter they were self-directing, using built-in cameras and machine learning to find and target enemies.
No deaths have been confirmed, but the drones are carrying explosive charges and similar systems have caused “significant casualties” in other encounters.
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Kargu-2 quadcopter drones reportedly deployed in Libya in March 2020, attacking anti-government rebels completely autonomously – without human operators
According to to the March report of the United Nations Security Council’s panel of experts for Libya, Kargu-2 quadcopters were deployed in the North African country in March 2020.
The incident took place during a skirmish between the Libyan government and forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, commander of a breakaway faction of the Libyan National Army.
Equipped with explosives, the Kargu-2 drone can be remotely flown by a human operator or use its built-in camera and AI to autonomously search for targets.
The explosive charge then detonates upon impact.
The encounter is the first known incident of autonomous drones attacking humans. Pictured: a still from a promotional video of the Kargu-2
According to the report, Haftar’s forces withdrew from the capital, Tripoli, as they were “ hunted down and remotely occupied ” by Kargu-2 drones.
The units “were neither trained nor motivated to defend themselves against the effective use of this new technology and mostly withdrew desperately,” it read.
“Once they withdrew, they were constantly harassed by the unmanned combat aircraft and deadly autonomous weapon systems.”
The drones’ were programmed to attack targets without the need for data connectivity between the operator and the ammunition – in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability. ‘
While there were no confirmed deaths, a UN report stated that similar lethal autonomous weapons caused “ significant casualties ” when deployed against the manned Pantsir S-1 surface-to-air missile system.
The information is provided according to a confidential source New scientist: if true, this would be the first known incident of an autonomous drone attacking people.
While there were no confirmed deaths, the report stated that similar lethal autonomous weapons caused “ significant casualties ” when deployed against Haftar’s manned Pantsir S-1 surface-to-air missile system.
Armed with explosive charges, the Kargu-2 flies on its target in a kamikaze style, detonating on impact
Proponents of deadly autonomous drones like the Kargu-2 claim they limit civilian casualties, but critics argue the technology is too imprecise.
“Today’s machine learning-based systems cannot effectively distinguish a farmer from a soldier,” wrote homeland security specialist Zachary Kallenborn. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Farmers might be holding a gun to defend their land, while soldiers might use a rake to topple a gun turret. … Even an adequate classification of a vehicle is difficult. ‘
And without a human to pass judgment, the risk is too high, Kallenborn added.
“Any autonomous weapon has a chance of screwing it up, but those mistakes can have a wide variety of consequences,” he wrote. Autonomous weapons with the highest risk are weapons with a high risk of error and many people who die. Failure to fail a .357 magnum is one thing; accidentally detonating a W88 warhead is another. ‘
STM, the Turkish company that produced the Kargu-2, has not responded to a request for comment on the allegations in the report.
The company develops radar, satellites, autonomous systems and other technology in the private and military sectors.
According to New Scientist, the drone has ‘advanced object and face recognition’.
STM is reportedly developing ‘swarm capabilities’ for the Kargu that will allow 20 drones to operate consecutively.
Since the incident, the Libyan government of national accord has been dissolved.
On March 10, a new regime, the Government of National Unity, was established under the leadership of President Mohamed al-Menfi and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.