Alistair Burt, a Conservative foreign minister, said that the technology represents a “step on” from drones used in Afghanistan because the robots are capable of automatically selecting and killing target.
He said: “We cannot predict the future; we cannot know now how this technology will develop. Given the challenging situations in which we expect our armed forces personnel to operate now and in the future, it would be wrong to deny them legitimate and effective capabilities.
“We have a responsibility to the people who protect us, and must therefore reserve the right to develop and use technology as it evolves in accordance with established international law.”
Britain has already developed some technology which is potentially capable of operating without human oversight.
Taranis, a £145million combat aircraft named after the Celtic God of thunder, can fly faster than the speed of sound and select targets automatically.
It only seeks authorisation from a human controller when it needs to attack a target. The aircraft, which will be used in North Africa, made its maiden flight earlier this year.
Nia Griffith, a Labour MP who raised the issue in the Commons, said killer robots were not a “fantasy or science fiction”.
She warned that the technology could create a moral and legal “vacuum”. She said: “[There are] a multitude of terrifying practical concerns. A state could chose to pit deadly robots against human soldiers on foot, presenting the ultimate asymmetrical situation.
“[They] could be hacked or appropriated, possibly for use against the state, and they could malfunction, with deadly consequences”.
Full article: Britain prepared to develop ‘killer robots’, minister says (The Telegraph)