From Sci-Fi to the Battlefield: How Autonomous Drones Are Becoming a Reality

On April 5, the U.S. Army released a short film touting flying, autonomous drones. And once you see what these autonomous pack hunters are being designed to do, you might be surprised by how science fiction is now on the verge of becoming reality on the battlefield.



Immerse yourself in a video game set in the future and you might face off against a killer robot or an AI-controlled vehicle. Flip through the pages of a comic or turn the pages of a book and you might find your favorite characters in the same situations. But all of that is fiction, of course, and you’d never encounter anything similar in real life—until now.



The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center (seriously, it’s actually called that) released a short, CG movie that showcases planned, future tech. It’s called “Army Aviation Launches Autonomous Pack Hunters,” with the autonomous pack hunters being featured as drones capable of operating without any human input.


Army Aviation Launches Autonomous Pack Hunters


There is no dialog in the film and that’s probably quite intentional. But from the scenes we can see that a Black Hawk helicopter launches the APH that then scout an area as directed by the helicopter crew. Once the drones obtain enemy targets, they relay the intelligence back to the crew, which then calls in an indirect fire strike. The IDF destroys the enemy and the drones perform a battle damage assessment. Troops on the ground subsequently advance and the operation carries on.


One of the big things that stands out in the film is that the drones are not armed and are not able to call for fire on their own. A human is always in on the loop when it comes to lethal action. It doesn’t appear that the Army has fielded APH yet. And based on its history, we can’t be certain if it ever will. (The Army is always hit and miss when it comes to fielding tech that it says it’s developing.) But the possibility of seeing this particular system some day isn’t far- fetched. After all, according to some reports, other nations may already be using lethal autonomous drones—killer robots—on the battlefield.


So watch the Army film on autonomous pack hunters (check out higher-resolution versions here). And the next time you play a future-tech video game or read a sci-fi story, just remember, the tech and situations in them may not be as futuristic as they seem.

Paul Hair

Paul Hair is an author who writes fiction and nonfiction under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Follow him on Gab. His fascinating books are available at his Amazon Author Page. Help support him by purchasing one or more of his titles.