According to several reports released in the media, the U.S. government plans to develop drones in the near future that are capable of autonomously neutralizing targets - assassin bots, in other words.
Reported originally in Defense One by former intelligence analyst Joshua Foust, the recent efforts of engineers to advance combat drone capabilities has resulted in the pioneering of a new, but deadly technology - lethal autonomous systems. Also known as lethal autonomous robots (LAR), these machines “select a target and fire their weapons without a human reviewing or checking the result.”
Commenting on the system, Purdue University Professor stated, "If a drone's system is sophisticated enough, it could be less emotional, more selective and able to provide force in a way that achieves a tactical objective with the least harm."
While the LAR system may be seemingly efficient and convenient, the development of such a drone would be extremely controversial; literally, flying assassin robots would be roaming the skies, launching their merciless weaponry on whatever they deem to be a 'target' or a 'threat'.
The use of combat drones have been increasingly used by the U.S. military for counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, as opposed to neutralizing targeted al-Qaeda operatives, human-led drones have claimed the lives of many civilians. And while LAR systems are said to be more accurate and efficient when targeting a supposed threat, it is not certain that civilian casualties will decrease with the implementation of these drones.