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An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)


Automated technology is increasingly used in military activities such as intelligence gathering, navigation and weapons delivery. This POSTnote examines current and future military applications of automation, and considers associated legal, ethical and societal issues.


  • Military systems have an increasing range of automated functions but there are no fully autonomous systems in use.
  • Each of the main military domains – air, land and sea – make use of automation.
  • Technological challenges include on board data processing capabilities, data transfer, and power.
  • Deployment of armed remotely piloted vehicles has raised various issues including the need for transparency about how they are used by governments.
  • There is debate over whether a pre-emptive ban is needed on future lethal autonomous weapons systems, which could select and attack targets without human intervention

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