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A fully autonomous weapon (also called lethal autonomous robots and killer robots) refers to

both out-of-the-loop weapons and those that allow a human on the loop, but that are effectively out-of-the-loop weapons because the supervision is so limited.[1]


"Fully autonomous weapons . . . do not yet exist, but technology is moving in the direction of their development and precursors are already in use. Many countries employ weapons defense systems that are programmed to respond automatically to threats from incoming munitions. Other precursors to fully autonomous weapons, either deployed or in development, have antipersonnel functions and are in some cases designed to be mobile and offensive weapons. Militaries value these weapons because they require less manpower, reduce the risks to their own soldiers, and can expedite response time."[2]

"A key concern with fully autonomous weapons is that they would be prone to cause civilian casualties in violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The lack of meaningful human control that characterizes the weapons would make it difficult to hold anyone criminally liable for such unlawful actions."[3]


  1. Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, at 2.
  2. Id.
  3. The ‘Killer Robots’ Accountability Gap (full-text).