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US military says it can put facial recognition into robot drones

US military says it can put facial recognition into robot drones

Whenever a radically new technology comes along, someone worries that it will be weaponized and, at least in the United States, someone in the military says something about being paranoid and ridiculous. But… .

The U.S. Air Force has just combined AI, robotics, sensors, drones and facial recognition in one project.

Add solar power or a small nuclear reactor and spotting techniques being developed by intelligence agencies, and you have one patient and efficient assassination machine.

Science and technology magazine New Scientist is reporting that the Air Force now has the power to give facial recognition to autonomous drones.

Publicly held defense contractor RealNetworks won an $800,000 contract two years ago to integrate its Secure Accurate Facial Recognition (SAFR) platform with Air Force drones. (RealNetworks in the 1990s was an early video streamer.)

The drones are to be tasked with expeditionary roles, including special operations, to “open the opportunity for real-time autonomous response by the robot.”

This is not necessarily a unique development. The United Nations issued a report in 2021 claiming that Libya’s prime minister, fighting a civil war, had ordered advanced drones and at least one Turkish-made quadcopter to be loaded with munitions. They allegedly also had facial recognition software.

And while not directly linked, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence signed off on a number of research contracts in 2022, looking for ways to better recognize people walking on the ground from far away and from a certain height in the air. The research, known at Biometric Recognition & ID at Altitude and Range, is ongoing at a number of U.S. universities.

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