Autonomy - Are we there yet?

17 June 2016

Royal Aeronautical Society


“How far have we or should we allow weapon systems to go down the autonomous route and should a human always make the final decision to prosecute the target. Will it ever be possible to program a machine to exercise judgement?” 

The prosecution of mobile targets, at range and in complex environments, is challenging. During the Cold War the development of weapons for the attack of mobile targets at range concentrated on weapon autonomy, whereby the weapon would automatically search for, identify and home onto mobile targets. This thread of weapon development led to introduction of such systems as Brimstone and RF Hellfire. However, for recent operations, rules of engagement have not allowed the use of these indirect weapons and the human-in-the-loop has remained. Autonomous systems are capable of deciding a course of action, from number of alternatives, without depending on human oversight and control. Used intelligently, autonomy can be viewed as a force-multiplier. 

With a general trend toward force-size reductions, autonomous systems become more attractive options. Advanced Technology already exists for autonomy, potentially changing the nature of the human invention. In order to accept a greater degree of autonomy of weapon systems, what would need to change? 

Confirmed Speakers Include:

 - Prof Tony Gillespie, Visiting Professor, UCL

- Nigel Birdsall, Key Account Manager, Blue Bear Systems Ltd

- Prof Bill Brdo, VP Systems Engineering UCL 

- Joseph Savirimuthu, Senior Lecturer in Law, Liverpool Law School

- Prof Jason Ralph, Head of Electrical and Electronics, University of Liverpool

- Peter Lee, Reader in Politics and Ethics, University of Portsmouth

- Dr Colin Wills, Aerospace and Business Consultant, Fighting Edge Ltd.

Registration fees

Non-Members: £350 + VAT

Corporate Partner Rate: £300 + VAT

RAeS Member: £245 + VAT

RAeS Baseline Member: £95 + VAT

Registration for this event is now open so be sure to register your place today!


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Royal Aeronautical Society