Autonomy in weapons systems, and AI in security and defence
- International: First UN General Assembly resolution on autonomous weapons tabled by Austria: A historic resolution on autonomous weapons, the first at the UN General Assembly, was tabled yesterday by Austria. The resolution has a growing list of cross-regional co-sponsors, including Belgium, Costa Rica, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago. For more on this historic resolution, see here.
- International: First Committee Monitor – Week 1: Reaching Critical Will’s First Committee Monitor covers statements, resolutions and proceedings of the UNGA First Committee every week, with sections dedicated to key issues for First Committee. Stop Killer Robots’ entry on autonomous weapons begins on page 15 of this edition.
- France/International: Robots tueurs: l’ONU espère faire abolir ces systèmes d’armes autonomes avant 2026 (in French): This piece covers last week’s joint call from the UN Secretary General and the President of the ICRC for the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapons by 2026.
- US: US tech company raises funding to build swarming robot boats: Writing for Forbes, David Hambling reports that drone boat makers Saronic have announced a $55 million Series A funding round’ to accelerate research and development and expand in-house manufacturing capacity to mass-produce autonomous drone boats for the U.S. Navy’. Saronic co-founder Rob Lehman, a former US Marine, said that the company is ‘building platforms for a family of systems that can integrate with payloads and sensors’, adding that the platforms enable ‘a diverse set of mission requirements in the maritime domain from command and control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISRT), etc. that enable the delivery of kinetic and non-kinetic effects’. Hambling adds that ‘Some of the drone boats may, like their Ukrainian counterparts, be designed specifically as munitions for one-way attack runs. But they may be accompanied by others bristling with sensors to identify targets and assess the effects of strikes, or electronic warfare vessels to decoy, distract and jam enemy warships.’
- US/International: Rheinmetall unveils autonomous vehicle technology: At the AUSA 2023 exposition, Rheinmetall unveiled its PATH Autonomous Kit (A-Kit) for diverse vehicle platforms, which is ‘a navigation system that empowers vehicles to operate autonomously with precision and reliability’, allowing them to navigate autonomously ‘through various operating environments.’
- Russia: Russia adds thermal imaging to FPV kamikaze drones: Forbes reports that Russia has added a thermal imager to one of its FPV kamikaze drones (small racing quadcopters fitted with explosive warheads) to allow for night attacks. The thermal imagers ‘heat, allowing soldiers to spot and identify targets even in complete darkness or through smoke and dust.’
- US: US Army mulls attack drones, ground robots for replicator endeavor: The US Army could ‘contribute one-way attack drones and ground-based robotics to the Pentagon’s nascent Replicator initiative, which aims to deploy autonomous systems en masse to counter Chinese stockpiles’.
- US: GM Defense and Anduril Announce Teaming Agreement: Anduril and GM Defence, a tactical trucks producer, is partnering to ‘to address emerging needs on the battlefield’, focussed on ‘delivering autonomy solutions, battery electrification and other new propulsion technologies, as well as those integrating the full range of Anduril technologies onto GM Defense mobility solutions.’
- International: Little Radar-Toting Robotic Gun Vehicle Aims To Protect Squads From Drones: Three international defence contractors ‘have teamed up to offer a new lower-tier counter-drone system that consists of a turreted infantry rifle with a computerized “smart sight,” a small radar array, and a six-wheeled uncrewed ground vehicle. The resulting combination could potentially be employed against other threats beyond drones and would also offer units on the ground valuable surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.’ The optic part of the system is made by SmartShooter, and is a ‘software-driven system that includes a small video camera and a laser rangefinder, and can automatically detect potential targets and be ‘locked on’ to them. Once a target has been locked in, the optic calculates the optimal point of aim. The user then aims the rifle and fires.’
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