NewsAI-controlled drone onslaught: Russia's chilling new warfare strategy in Ukraine

AI‑controlled drone onslaught: Russia's chilling new warfare strategy in Ukraine

Ukraine. Russians are working on autonomous combat drones.
Ukraine. Russians are working on autonomous combat drones.
Images source: © Maciej Stanik | Maciej Stanik
7:50 AM EST, January 22, 2024

The conflict in Ukraine has escalated the use of drones in warfare. What was once an intermittent operation has evolved into a daily onslaught. On social media, hundreds of videos capture varying degrees of success in drone attacks, an unsettling testament to their growing pervasiveness.

The Russians turn to artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance their drone-operated offenses. They are developing a technology that autonomously controls the drone post-takeoff and selects its target, an unnerving concept to contemplate.

This is not a dystopian projection — it's a rapidly approaching reality. Thus far, Ukrainians have held a technological edge, thanks to the technology and equipment support from Western Europe and the U.S.

Russian scientists, backed by the Kremlin, are relentless in their pursuit. Experts believe that "the currents are shifting, although, contrary to announcements of mass-scale production by Russia in 2023, we aren't noticing the expected advantage."

Despite this, the technological landscape could quickly shift as Russians are developing AI-controlled drones, including those designed for mass attacks as part of drone swarms. This strategy could potentially substitute traditional artillery operations. The Ukrainians are using this method primarily to respond to their ammunition shortage.

"We're significantly reliant on our Western partners for our artillery needs. One of our gun divisions, for instance, fired 500 rounds during the summer, and now, the number has dwindled to around 20. Fortunately, we have drones at our disposal. They're inexpensive, portable, and reduce the need for hefty artillery that's difficult to conceal. Their accuracy significantly outperforms traditional artillery," says Ukrainian Lieutenant Alex on social media.

Currently, Ukrainian experts remain skeptical about the Russians' technological advancements. "We cannot consider the Russian technology as artificial intelligence. They may have an edge in volume, but they lag in quality. Technologically, they're trailing us by two to three months."

Kyiv, however, acknowledges the looming threat of its adversary's rapidly expanding drone production. "They replicate our technology and attempt to initiate mass production. While we're continuously innovating, we can only manage small-scale production, whereas they possess large-scale production capabilities," explains Ukrainian experts.

Related content