One of the fears of weaponizing autonomous robots is that they decide who to kill. That’s one reason drone strikes continue to require operators to decide whether to fire or not. We aren’t making the same distinction when attacking other species though. The Crown-of-thorns sea star is ravaging coral reefs. Their population dramatically increased, possibly because of agricultural runoff, a consequence of human activity. The sea stars are incredibly tough and difficult to kill. Human divers aren’t efficient enough; so, a highly efficient robot has been created that can autonomously identify, target, and inject poison into the sea stars. A fleet of the robots will be necessary to save the reef. The application will also test the effectiveness of their autonomy, and will probably suggest other applications.
(Click on the image for the link.)