Russian ‘Skynet’ to lead military robots on the battlefield

In a step towards creating independent artificial intelligence comparable to Skynet from the 'Terminator' franchise, a Russian company has successfully tested software capable of undertaking decisions and carrying them out without any human intervention.

The United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (OPK), an integral part of the Rostec arms corporation, says it has developed the Unicum (Latin for 'the only one') software package that gives military or civilian robots enough artificial intelligence to perform complicated tasks completely on their own.

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Powering a group of up to 10 robotic complexes, the Unicum artificial intelligence (AI) communicates and distributes ‘roles’ among the robots, chooses the ‘commander’ of the robotic task force and assigns combat mission to each individual machine.

It can locate targets, choose dominating positions on a battlefield, request target elimination validation from human operators and eliminate the targets. It is also capable of automatically requesting replacements for disabled machines.

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“This is the first [AI] system of that quality that has successfully completed the tests and has been passed on to the client. The technology is being readied for installation on real life robotic systems, both civilian and in the military, including unmanned aerial vehicles,” OPK Deputy Director Sergey Skokov said.

“The software system has passed all the [governmental] commissions,” Skokov stressed.

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The Unicum AI could be installed on any robotic system, no matter where it is used: on the ground, in the air or out at sea. It has the ability to act independently or in groups.

The developers claim their AI could exclude humans from taking part in the actions of robots altogether.

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“With Unicum, the robots will be capable of executing tasks independently, to see and evaluate the situation, plotting new courses as well as communicating with other machines. In fact, this is yet another step to the creation of fully-fledged artificial intelligence, enabling mechanisms with nearly human capabilities,” Skokov said.