Stock photo of a drone flying.
  • A deadly drone "hunted down" a human target without being instructed to do so, according to a UN report.
  • The incident took place during clashes in Libya last year, the Daily Star reported.
  • Experts are sounding the alarm about the lack of regulation around using "killer robots."
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

A "lethal" weaponized drone "hunted down a human target" without being told to for the first time, according to a UN report seen by the New Scientist.

The March 2020 incident saw a KARGU-2 quadcopter autonomously attack a human during a conflict between Libyan government forces and a breakaway military faction, led by the Libyan National Army's Khalifa Haftar, the Daily Star reported.

The Turkish-built KARGU-2, a deadly attack drone designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations, targeted one of Haftar's soldiers while he tried to retreat, according to the paper.

The drone, which can be directed to detonate on impact, was operating in a "highly effective" autonomous mode that required no human controller, the New York Post said.

"The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true 'fire, forget and find' capability," the report from the UN Security Council's Panel of Experts on Libya said.

This is likely the first time drones have attacked humans without instructions to do so, Zak Kellenborn, a national security consultant who specializes in unmanned systems and drones, confirmed in the report.

Kallenborn, however, has concerns about the future of autonomous drones. "How brittle is the object recognition system?" he said. "How often does it misidentify targets?"

Jack Watling, a researcher on land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told the New Scientist that this incident demonstrates the "urgent and important" need to discuss the potential regulation of autonomous weapons.

Human Rights Watch has called for an end to so-called "killer robots" and is campaigning for a "preemptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons," according to a report by the charity.

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