Swarms of flying robots could change the way wars are fought. In recent years, its use has seen a surge in warzones.
Recently, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) used a swarm of small combat drones to locate, identify, and attack Hamas militants within the Gaza strip. The mission was carried out during the Israel-Gaza conflict in mid-May, marking the first time that an artificial intelligence-guided drone swarm has been used in combat.
Since their introduction into armed forces around the world, drones have typically been controlled individually by remote operators. But a drone swarm, like the one just used against the Palestinian Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip, is a single networked entity that flies itself using artificial intelligence.
Such a swarm can cover a large area and continue its mission, even if it loses some drones during its mission. It only requires a single human operator to direct it towards the targets. The machine learning system is fed with data collected through satellites, aerial reconnaissance vehicles, as well as intel collected by ground units. With that, it can identify targets and predict when and where enemy attacks may occur.
Israel also deployed a semi-autonomous robot armed with machine guns during the recent Gaza conflict. It was capable of driving to a designated location, returning fire, and even self-destructing when compromised.
Over the last couple of years, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been using AI and supercomputers to pinpoint suspected Hamas locations and to strike strategic targets to remove missile launching sites. According to the IDF, this has allowed them to comb through the gathered data much faster and reduced the time needed for their missions. Unit 8200, an Intelligence Corps unit of the IDF, created multiple algorithms that used geographical, human, and signal intelligence to identify strike targets, which were then passed to command for ordering a strike.
It is quite unfortunate that due to military data limitations, as of now, we don’t have many specific details about the capabilities of the drones being used this time.
However, the increasing use of AI-guided drones is a concern for many, including the UN Security Council and Humans Rights Watch, which runs a campaign to Stop Killer Robots, calling for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons.