UK Ministry drones
'The UK does not possess fully autonomous weapon systems and has no intention of developing them,' the new doctrine will see the MOD pledgeIsaac Brekken/Getty Images

As concerns continue to rise over autonomous weaponry or 'killer robots', the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that Britain's military will ensure drones and other remotely controlled weapon systems stay under human control, as part of a new doctrine.

According to a report in the Guardian, the doctrine will be in line with commitments made by NATO members and will reiterate the UK's strict opposition against the development and deployment of life-threatening autonomous weapon systems (AI-backed machines that operate on their own on the battlefield without trained operators or conventional chains of command).

"The UK does not possess fully autonomous weapon systems and has no intention of developing them," the new doctrine will see the MOD pledge. "UK policy is that the operation of weapons will always be under control as an absolute guarantee of human oversight, authority and accountability."

According to Mark Lancaster, the minister for the armed forces: "It's absolutely right that our weapons are operated by real people capable of making incredibly important decisions, and we are guaranteeing that vital oversight."

"We're certainly not ignoring robotics; our dedicated science and technology budget and our £800m innovation fund [are] keeping our armed forces at the cutting edge of technology, but our weapons will always be under human control."

"We're certainly not ignoring robotics; our dedicated science and technology budget and our £800m innovation fund [are] keeping our armed forces at the cutting edge of technology, but our weapons will always be under human control."

According to the MoD, the new policy is targeted at saving lives of troops engaged in combat. This could involve using remotely controlled vehicles or UAVs to resupply troops at the frontline of war. The UK currently maintains a small fleet of remotely controlled Reaper drones, which can also be armed if required.

The move from MoD comes amid protests against this week's biennial Defence and Security Equipment International conference – Britain's biggest arms fair which is expected to see as many as 34,000 visitors in attendance.

More than 100 technology luminaries from different parts of the world have already warned against AI-backed autonomous weapon systems, urging United Nations to halt the development of such systems for warfare.

UK's former defence chief Gen Sir Richard Barrons recently told Telegraph the age of lethal autonomous was 'bound to come', but noted UK would always maintain human control.

"If you ask the Ministry of Defence here, they will say as a matter of policy we are not going to do autonomous capability. There will always be a man in the loop. But if you ask other people around the world, they don't have the same value struggle".