NEW DELHI, June 10 (RIA Novosti) – India's defense research agency is working to develop robotic soldiers which could be deployed in sensitive border conflict zones, its boss has revealed to India's PTI news agency.
The robots, being developed by India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), will have a "very high level of intelligence" to enable them to tell friend from foe, DRDO chief Avinash Chander says.
"We are going to work for robotic soldiers," Chander told PTI in an interview. "We are going to look for very high level of intelligence in it than what we are talking today... It is a new program and a number of labs are already working in a big way on robotics."
The newly-appointed DRDO chief said the project is one of his agency's "priority areas," as "unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare.”
"A robotic soldier is one step further," Chander said.
Initially, a human soldier would remain in the loop to identify an enemy or a combatant to a robotic soldier, but "slowly in due course of time, the robotic soldier would be at the front end and the human soldier would be assisting him," he said.
Robotic soldiers could be used in operations in unstable regions, including on the so-called "Line of Control" dividing India and Pakistan in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, Chander told PTI, but said that this was at least a decade away.
Human Rights Watch has criticized the concept of fully autonomous "killer robots," which would be able to select and engage targets without human intervention, and called for the preemptive prohibition on such weapons.
“Fully autonomous weapons do not exist yet, but they are being developed by several countries and precursors to fully autonomous weapons have already been deployed by high-tech militaries,” HRW said in a statement on its website in November 2012. “The weapons would not be constrained by the capacity for compassion, which can provide a key check on the killing of civilians. Fully autonomous weapons also raise serious questions of accountability because it is unclear who should be held responsible for any unlawful actions they commit.”