U.S. Air Force adds face recognition capability to military drones
The US Air Force intends to equip its military drones with facial recognition technology. To do so, the U.S. Department of Defense has signed a contract with RealNetworkswhich has machine learning-based software that can identify faces.
The name of the system they will use in the unmanned autonomous vehicles is ‘SAFR’ and. cost $729,056 to the US. The US Army’s goal is to employ the software on drones for special operations abroad for intelligence, surveillance and information acquisition.
Although the idea that facial recognition in drones invites the thought that the US will start using machines without human control to shoot, it does not appear that this will be their purpose. It has been reported that SAFR will be included in small drones that are not usually armed, but are designed to scout enemy areas.
“We will adapt the SAFR facial recognition platform for implementation on a standalone sUAS for special operations, ISR and other expeditionary use cases,” reads the contract summary. This will require integration of the SAFR software with the sUAS hardware and software stack, including its on-board computing, the communications systems and the remote control software to allow operation in DIL communications configurations, to admit actionable information for remote human operators and open the opportunity for real-time autonomous response by the robot.“.
Therefore, reading the contract, one should not imagine the famous Predator and Reaper equipped with facial recognition technology to assassinate adversaries. Should this software be applied to armed drones, it is to be expected that it would only be responsible for recognizing the target, but possibly a human would be in charge of pulling the trigger.
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