Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey and his company Anduril Industries have drawn flak for their pursuit of controversial government and military contracts, and that uproar isn’t about to subside any time soon. Anduril has unveiled the Interceptor, a “counter-drone” built solely to take down other robotic fliers by ramming them at high speed. It requires human operators’ permission for takedowns, but can be cued through AI and automatically acquire targets using computer vision.
The Interceptor is the weapon. Whether through a manual cue or an AI-powered decision, the Interceptor possesses the ability to autonomously fly toward a hostile drone at high speeds (roughly 100mph) with the intent of ramming itself into the enemy device. Ideally, the hostile drone will be rendered ineffective on impact; if not outright destroyed.
According to Bloomberg, Anduril has already begun shipping these drones out to their military customers throughout the world; most notably in the US and the UK. So, if you’re a consumer with a drone flying hobby, it may be wise to steer clear of military installations in the future.
As it’s marketed, Interceptor is strictly a defensive tool. It’s theoretically saving lives rather than taking them. At the same time, its highly automated nature raises concerns about the rise of killer robots and the potential for abuse. It wouldn’t take much to have Interceptor attack targets on its own. Workers at companies like Google have already balked at working on military drones, yet Anduril is embracing them. The defense startup argues that it’s at least transparent about its intentions, though. Where firms like Google and Microsoft have been accused of staying quiet about military contracts and misleading workers, Anduril makes clear that weapons are part of its plans.