Ukraine has already developed killer AI drones, a military expert has revealed.

And although the autonomous manhunters have not yet been deployed “the phenomenon cannot be stopped”.

Ukraine’s use of drones – seen most dramatically this week in the attacks on Russian Black Sea Fleet, has helped level the playing field against Russia’s massive military might.

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And now Yaroslav Honchar, a lieutenant colonel in the Ukrainian military, has revealed Ukraine's latest weapon while discussing the work of volunteer group called Aerorozvidka with Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.

In the interview, Honchar claimed that Ukraine has developed artificially-intelligent drones that can track and destroy targets without the need for without direct human control.

“The technology already exists and this phenomenon cannot be stopped,” he said.

Autonomous drones have already been used for reconnaissance, he said, and combat missions are simply the next inevitable step.

If drones are piloted by a remote operator, the control signals can potentially be jammed – but an autonomous drone is much harder to defeat.

Autonomous killer drones have already reportedly been deployed on a battlefield in Libya, but if Ukraine uses its AI drone capability offensively it will represent the first authenticated case of a machine killing a man.

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Mark Gubrud, a physicist who has campaigned against autonomous weapons for many years, told New Scientist: “I would not be at all surprised if the Ukrainians used some kind of machine-learning-based vision for automated target recognition in anti-tank roles, for example.

“That’s where the times are at.”

There have been repeated calls for an international treaty against autonomous weapons, but bids to table a motion at the United Nations have so far been unsuccessful.

However, the use of such weaponry by Ukraine risks damaging its International support.

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Zak Kallenborn, a WMD Warfare & Drone Swarms Analyst from the Schar School of Policy and Government in Virginia says ““Ukraine is fighting for survival, so I would expect the military to use whatever tools can help them survive.

However, he adds, the fact that the weapons are now being found on the battlefield is evidence that the international community needs to establish clear rules about their usage.

He says the UN urgently needs to rule on “what autonomous weapons are no big deal, and which need serious regulation and international bans.”

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