US Army seeks AI driven killing machines

The US Army is launching a new initiative to design vehicles equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for increased lethal accuracy and ground combat capabilities.

The Army Contracting Command (ACC) has sent out a request on behalf of the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) for contractors, vendors, and academics to submit proposals to the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) program.

ATLAS is a program designed to improve military technology through computer vision, AI, and machine learning (ML).

In particular, the military wants to develop “autonomous target acquisition technology” which can be merged with fire control systems in ground combat vehicles.

The US Army envisions a future in which AI will give combat vehicles the capability to “acquire, identify, and engage targets” with a speed boost of up to three times in comparison to current, manual processes.

The program may include sensors, processing technology, image recognition, world modeling, range determination, AI & ML algorithms, augmentation, LIDAR laser systems, and rangefinders, among many other technologies.

However, the military is keen to emphasize that any project proposals are still subject to the Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 3000.09, of which two particular clauses are of interest:

Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force;

Semi-autonomous weapon systems that are onboard or integrated with unmanned platforms must be designed such that, in the event of degraded or lost communications, the system does not autonomously select and engage individual targets or specific target groups that have not been previously selected by an authorized human operator.

All uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence in this program will be evaluated to ensure that they are consistent with DoD legal and ethical standards,” the ACC added.