Military expert discusses future drones in Bureau’s drones podcast

Imaging technology is set to increase targeting capability, Peter Roberts says. Photo: Shutterstock)

The future of drone technology is smaller and more precise weapons: they will be more like a sniper’s bullet than a missile, and will have far more discriminatory targeting and imaging systems, a UK military expert told the Bureau’s drones podcast.

Peter Roberts, a recently retired British naval officer and senior research fellow at UK defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, outlines his predictions for how drone technology will develop in the next decade.

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‘You can foresee in 10 years’ time very, very specialist weapons that are almost like a rifle shot being placed into a single targeted individual,’ he said.

Current imaging and targeting technology is limited, he added. While drone cameras can now read a car number plate, they cannot recognise someone’s face. But that’s where the future lies, he said.

While ‘you’re never going to go and DNA swab [the target] from a drone,’ he said. ‘You are going to be able to do things like understand his gait is unique to him – the way he walks – and that can be understood, targeted, recognised and provide definitive proof that it’s the individual you’re after.’

Until recently Roberts was responsible for the development and management of the UK military’s cyber and information operations capabilities at the Ministry of Defence.

Also in this episode, Alice Ross and Owen Bennett-Jones discuss news that Washington is considering killing a US citizen in Pakistan with a drone strike.

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