How Will The Use Of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Aviation Shape the Future World?


The state has the right to regulate the legal regime implemented on aircrafts owing to its absolute and exclusive right of independence on its own airspace. The UAVs1 have an extensive area of usage for scientific, commercial, and military purposes in parallel with the rapid improvements in aviation and space technologies in the first quarter of the 21st century. Click for the "Security of the Future" ebook...

The state has the right to regulate the legal regime implemented on aircrafts owing to its absolute and exclusive right of independence on its own airspace. The UAVs1 have an extensive area of usage for scientific, commercial, and military purposes in parallel with the rapid improvements in aviation and space technologies in the first quarter of the 21st century.

This academic paper has search to outline the current developments of unmanned systems and examines some of the legal issues pertaining to their use on the battlefield today and in the future. Therefore, we develop our academic argument perspectives in four steps. In the first step, we aim to provide an overview of emerging developments in AI and UAV systems. In the second side, we try to examine the military-theoretical frameworks within which autonomous weapons will change nature of the modern warfare. Thirdly, we open a window how International law will answer the problem? In the final part of the paper, we look at potential future framework, including possible regulatory measures, as well as military-operational and political restraints that may apply.


Usage of robotic weapon systems historically in battlefield area dates in the WW-II. Unmanned vehicles are being developed for a wider variety of purposes in the land, sea and air domains. At the tactical level, the advantages of AI are clear: a modular AI will confer battle-winning advantages where it can be effectively deployed. A modular AI that can optimize some tactical activity-say, the storming of an enemy position, rapidly coordinating fires and maneuvers via networked and automated platforms- would outperform a seasoned
battalion commander with ease. Modular AI will be able to improve the quality of human decision-making at strategic levels, using its capabilities for modelling via micro worlds, or assessing risk.2

Advancing usage modern technologies behind AWS raise familiar questions have regarding the prevention of friendly fire, miscalculation, and proliferation. There are critical definitional debates seek to better answer questions of how to use between the academia scholars, lawyers, military commanders or policy makers agree on a precise understandings of what legal norms constitutes an autonomous weapon systems (AWS). The first way of defining AWS differentiates them from other weapons in terms of degrees of control. Human Rights Watch laid out a three-part degree-of-control definition: “Human-in the-Loop“ (humans select and engage targets), “Human-on-the Loop“ (robots select and engage targets, but a supervising human can override), and “Human-out-of-the-Loop Weapons“ (full AWS).3 The possibility of the technical capabilities and limitations of the systems in question will depend on the degrees of machine autonomy that political decision-makers, military end users, and systems engineers have chosen to incorporate in them, as well as a host of other engineering considerations.4 How a system with given characteristics is actually employed within the broader context of a military operation is, however, determined by military doctrine-“the practical expression of[military] theory“.5 Semi-autonomous weapons are classified by the DoD as “a weapon system that, once activated, is intended to only engage individual targets or specific target groups that have been selected by a human operator.

Autonomous weapons are classified by the DoD as “a weapon system that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator. This includes human-supervised autonomous weapon systems that are designed to allow human operators to override operation of the weapon system, but can select and engage targets without further human input after activation.6


Unlike the regular aircrafts in terms of the aviation principles, the UAVs are defined as aircrafts which can transport useful load and fly automatically/radio operated without a pilot aboard. On the other hand, the interest in the robotics is growing considering cheaper design and production costs of UAVs comparing to other manned flight systems. Therefore, UAVs with enhanced vulnerability function have increased in number in the current inventories of states and private sector. Today, ongoing development efforts of autonomous Armed UAV systems have advanced able to identify, track, and attack targets independently of a human operator’s tactical inputs transformative technological capabilities weapons that brings to create significant new operative military advantages with the political motivation for the future. Are they really transformative? Will Artificial Intelligence AI core and autonomy lead to a new era of human-machine collaboration UAV systems? Thus, it is predicted that the demand for UAVs will remarkably increase in the 2040s as the loss of humans and aircrafts can be prevented in a potential close combat. When approached strategically, the tendency toward making these aerial platforms intimidating combat vehicles equipped with high firepower is getting stronger on the ground that UAVs takes on reconnaissance and offensive missions at a cheaper price and lower risk in a real combat zonecomparing to fighter aircrafts. Due to the same reason, military elites and decisionmakers might demand more of their production. Hence, considering the abrupt dangers and risks of combat pilots encountering enemy fighter aircrafts in the combat zone, it is suggested that autonomous remote controlled UAVs can show more rational and successful performance in mission and target engagement activities independent of physical and psychological pressure. In addition to this, at the time of a conflict, UAVs don’t have direct potential risks that occur when a fighter aircraft is struck by enemy air defences or fighter aircrafts posing the risk of pilot’s death. UAVs are equipped with advanced technology and artificial intelligence software that developed their operative flight abilities and vulnerability, and they eventually gained autonomous flight abilities. This results in ethical problems in practice and brings legal responsibilities that countries are liable to. This is because UAVs can perform their autonomous flight profiles, which are enhanced with an aritificial intelligence software or controlled remotely by a pilot, in an international air space or in air space dominated by other countries.Thus, a full legal agreement regarding the mission that modern robotics of unmanned aerial vehicles carry out due to rising flight distances and maneuvering performance; the determination of their legal responsibilities in flight profiles; the compensation for injuries to people or property has not been reached between the countries yet.

It was taken from the book " Security of the Future" of TASAM Publications.

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