Talks to halt a nightmare future of killer robots are to take place under the aegis of the United Nations.

The Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) has scheduled a conference on the Terminator 2-style technology for May in Geneva.

On the agenda will be how to deal with the challenges posed by the technology, which is bringing autonomous killing machines closer to reality.

Campaigners have warned that even though such weapons are in the early stages of development they are inevitable.

The concerns have thrown up a scenario similar to the plot of Terminator 2, in which computers achieve consciousness and set about killing off the human race with heavily armed robots.

Prof Noel Sharkey, who campaigns for human command in weapons deployment, welcomed the announcement of UN talks. He said: "We are now on the first rung of the international ladder to fulfill our goal of stopping these morally obnoxious weapons from ever being deployed."

One hundred and seventeen countries are members of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, including the United States, China, Israel, South Korea and the UK.

Among the groups trying to halt the introduction of the machines is the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) is also campaigning to ban the use of autonomous armed robots in theatres of war.

ICRAC legal expert Dave Akerson said: "Law follows technology. With robotic weapons, we have a rare opportunity to regulate a category of dangerous weapons before they are fully realised and the CCW is our best opportunity for regulation."