According to a recent report by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya, the STM Kargu-2 drone (a Turkish-made autonomous weapon) may have "remotely pursued and compromised" retreating soldiers loyal to Libyan General Khalifa Haftar.
If so, we would be facing the first known case of autonomous weapons used to kill .
A "prowler" drone
The Kargu is a "prowler" drone that can employ machine learning-based object classification to select and attack targets, with swarm capabilities under development to allow 20 drones to work together.
Its manufacturer, STM, shows in the following video a Kargu model in a steep fall towards a target in the middle of a group of mannequins :
The consequences of something like this are difficult to predict, as they initiate a dangerous slippery slope that requires us to answer many questions . Any autonomous weapon has a chance of breaking down, but those mistakes could have a wide range of consequences .
The highest risk autonomous weapons are those that have a high probability of error and kill a lot of people when they do so. We are not talking about a pistol that is fired by mistake .
The Turkish made Kargu-2 drone can operate in autonomous mode and may have been used to attack retreating soldiers fighting against the UN-recognized government in Libya. @ZKallenborn provides insight https://t.co/6Ile1g2Hhd pic.twitter.com/bDmsVd6Dx2
– Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (@BulletinAtomic) May 28, 2021
The United Nations Security Council report describes the event as follows:
Logistical convoys and retreating Haftar-affiliated forces were subsequently pursued and remotely attacked by unmanned combat aerial vehicles or lethal autonomous weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2 and other loitering munitions. Lethal autonomous weapon systems were programmed to strike targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the ammunition: in effect, a true "shoot, forget and find" capability. The unmanned combat aerial vehicles and the small intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacity of drones in the forces affiliated with Haftar were neutralized by electronic interference thanks to the Koral electronic warfare system.