ISRAEL used the first ever drone swarm deployed in battle to hunt down Hamas terrorists, it was reported.
The drones have no human input but instead link together using artificial intelligence to seek out their targets.
Hamas began firing rockets into Israel after protests by Palestinians in May, prompting an 11 day conflict in which 256 people were killed in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
During the violence the Israeli military says that more than 4,300 rockets were fired from Gaza towards towns and cities.
Israel retaliated with air strikes and artillery but didn’t deploy ground forces in its battle with the terrorists.
It now emerged Israeli forces used drone swarms in to target Hamas, New Scientist reports.
Arthur Holland of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research said that “if confirmed, they are certainly a notch up in the incremental growth of autonomy and machine-to-machine collaboration in warfare”.
Drones have previously been directed by a single operator who ‘fly’ the aircraft from a remote base.
But in recent years, militaries have been working on developing Artificial Intelligence that allows the drones to work together without the need for an operator.
The basic idea of a drone swarm is that its machines are able to make decisions among themselves.
The swarm continue its mission, even if loses some drones during its mission.
The machine learning system is fed with data sourced from satellites, other reconnaissance drones, and aerial vehicles, as well as intelligence collected by ground units.
Unit 8200 of the Israel Defence Forces Intelligence Corps has developed algorithms using geographical, signal, and human intelligence data to identify these strategic strike points.
The IDF have been using AI and supercomputers to identify locations of Hamas activity and plan strikes to remove any strategic advantage.
The IDF has not confirmed any specifics of the autonomous swarm attack on Hamas targets.
As well as Israel, several countries including the UK, Russia, the United States and China have been working on drone swarms.
The use of autonomous weapons has, however, led to concerns about whether the swarms AI means they will commit war crimes.
Human Rights Watch is running a campaign called Stop Killer Robots.
“There are serious doubts that fully autonomous weapons would be capable of meeting international humanitarian law standards,” it says.
These include “the rules of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity, while they would threaten the fundamental right to life and principle of human dignity”.