Pentagon announces new autonomous drones, systems program

The Pentagon announced Monday a new program focused on building out thousands of autonomous systems, including drones, as the U.S. seeks to better counter China’s vast military buildup.

The U.S. is pledging to build out the self-operating drones and defense systems at a more rapid pace to counter China’s mass procurement of conventional military resources — but the move is likely to face opposition from human rights groups and activists who are concerned about autonomous weapons that can kill without human input.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks unveiled the new initiative, called Replicator, at the National Defense Industrial Association conference on emerging technologies in Washington, D.C…

Several human rights groups have campaigned to ban autonomous weapons use. The United Nations is still weighing the issue and has yet to reach a definite agreement.