A disturbing video that shows the demonstration of a new artificial-intelligence powered battle tank that can select and destroy its targets has been released by an Estonian robotics developer.
Milrem Robotics showed off its Type-X battle chassis, which can be fitted with a variety of payloads including a reconnaissance package that uses tethered drones, anti-tank missiles, and in the company’s latest demonstration the Protector Remote Turret – carrying a powerful 30mm cannon.
Milrem teamed up with Norway's Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace company to show the autonomous tank identifying and obliterating target vehicles.
READ MORE: 'Suicide drone' that picks own targets seen in Ukraine in horror AI tech breakthrough
Gert Hankewitz, director of market and export control at Milrem, said that the tank would save countless lives because it prevented human crews from being placed in harm’s way.
"You want to send them to take the most dangerous positions because there are no men inside it," he said. ”If it gets blown up, everybody in the manned vehicles behind it will stay safe."
The Type-X can operate completely autonomously, or as the base platform for the Nordic Robotic Wingman (NRW), force-multiplying solution to support crewed battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
But this demonstration points the way to a completely AI battlefield, where humans give way to high-powered air and ground drones designating and destroying targets too quickly for any living soldier to react.
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The demonstration comes exactly a year after USV Ranger, an AI-guided warship that make sup part of the US Navy’s “Ghost Fleet” of uncrewed vessels, test-launched a one and a half-ton surface-to-air missile in a dramatic escalation of America’s autonomous weapons programme.
It’s not the first drone warship to launch a missile but, at 3,300lbs, the two-stage SM-6 missile is roughly 100 times larger than the Rafael SPIKE missile launched from an Israeli autonomous vessel in 2017.
Daan Kayser, an expert in autonomous weapons working for Dutch anti-war pressure group Pax For Peace, told Daily Star these developments represent the latest steps in a deadly AI arms race.
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“There are no winners in an AI arms race,” Kayser said, predicting that once these weapons are developed it’s only a matter of time before they are obtained by rogue states and terror groups, making the military advantage gained by developing such weapons systems “temporary and limited”.
Former Pentagon AI weapons expert Paul Scharre warns that someone could soon build “a simple, autonomous weapon in their garage”.
He says the potential is almost here: ”These tools are available for free download. You can download them online," he says. "[It] took me about three minutes online to find all of the free tools you would need to download this technology and make it happen."
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