Parliament has recently approved a resolution asking the government to ensure that the Belgian army does not use killer robots as part of its operations. However, the Ministry of Defence has revealed its interest in a European combat robot. The point is reported on Tuesday in De Morgen.
A few weeks ago, Estonia launched the initiative to develop a terrestrial robot or drone, alongside Latvia and Finland. According to the press communiqué, it is becoming apparent that Belgium would also be interested, which the department for the Minister of Defence, Steven Vandeput, confirms.
“One of the problems encountered by our soldiers is the weight of equipment. Sometimes they have to lug at least 30 kilos and an intelligent mule would be appropriate,” commented Major General, Marc Thys, Commander of the Ground component. However, he acknowledged that this type of drone might be armed.
In July, parliament approved a resolution prohibiting the deployment of killer robots and armed drones by the Ministry of Defence. The Estonian project indeed instances an armed drone, but the prohibition may only work for armed systems which are entirely automatized, therefore without human intervention. The Defence expert, Alexander Mattelaer (from the Egmont Institute), however flags up certain risks, especially the fact that someone can interfere with the communications system.
Major General Thys guaranteed, “We wish to keep away from killer robots and obviously remain within the framework of parliamentary decision-making.” He went on, “However innovation still has a controversial role to play.”