The main limit right now to US drone strikes the world over is the finite number of operators remotely piloting these drones. The Pentagon is pushing for DARPA to find a solution to that, with an eye toward artificial intelligence (AI).
The immediate focus is the create “collaborative” artificial intelligence that would allow the drone operator to effectively control a whole “wolf pack” of drones by controlling one, and having the others come along for the ride.
This would allow the drone operator to bring a whole fleet of drones worth of missiles with him to attacks, an obvious advantage over the current system. Yet the long-term goal seems to be to limit human interaction with air wars more and more.
DARPA officials are already talking about making the drones more and more autonomous, with a “mission supervisor” taking the place of actual drone operators, and software doing the flying.
But what about the killing? They’re not talking about it right now. but the Pentagon has been keen on making AI capable of identifying and attacking enemies, so the effort to reduce the number of people involved in the drone program may be the first step toward them being fully autonomous killer robots in the sky.