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MIT Technology Review

The British Army is carrying out a massive test of military robots and drones

The British Army is testing out over 70 new technologies, including unmanned vehicles and surveillance drones, in a four-week experiment on one of its biggest training grounds.

What sort of stuff? The department isn’t giving out specifics but said the focus will be on “surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness.” The development is part of a £800 million “innovation fund” launched in 2016.

The aim? Primarily it’s about reducing the danger to troops during combat, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD). One of the main areas it’ll test is “last mile” supply of fuel, food, and ammunition. The exercise will culminate in a simulated battle involving over 200 soldiers to test out the ideas and products.

But ... Some fear the MoD is going too far. In a report published this month, a campaign group claims the department is “actively funding” work to create fully autonomous killer drones, in contradiction of official statements.

The group, called Drone Wars UK, used Freedom of Information requests to map out agencies, laboratories, and contractors conducting research into drones and autonomous weapons technology for the MoD. It warns that this research will lead to drones becoming the first truly autonomous weapons.