Military Robot-Builder Clearpath Robotics Takes Stand On ‘Killer Robots’

Waterloo’s Clearpath Robotics is saying “hasta la vista, baby” to any involvement within ‘killer robot’ technology.

(And yes, this is an actual serious thing, and not something to laugh at in between heavy-accented references to The Terminator).

Despite its continued involvement with Canadian and international military research and development, Clearpath Robotics “believes that the development of killer robots is unwise, unethical, and should be banned on an international scale.”

Clearpath Robotics, is the first robotics company to sign on with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, “an international coalition of non-governmental organizations working to ban fully autonomous weapons.”  More specifically, they’re lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), or systems where a human does not make the final decision for a machine to take a potentially lethal action. The campaign meanwhile seeks legislation and regulation that would block people from having access to or creating robotic weapons that can make decisions to kill without human intervention, wrote Business Insider.

Clearpath is an organization that engineers autonomous vehicles, systems, and solutions for a global market. As current leaders in the research and development space for unmanned vehicles, making this kind of statement is a risk. “However, given the potentially horrific consequences of allowing development of lethal autonomous robots to continue, we are compelled to insist upon the strictest regulation of this technology,” wrote the company. It will continue to work with military clients, but has vouched to not manufacture weaponized robots that remove humans from the loop. The company said it has chosen to “value our ethics over potential future revenue.”

From the startup’s open letter to the public:

“The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots ( was launched in April 2013, bringing the topic of “killer robots” under public scrutiny.

This is an incredibly complex issue. We need to have this discussion now and take a stance; the robotics revolution has arrived and is not going to wait for these debates to occur.

In our eyes, no nation in the world is ready for killer robots – technologically, legally, or ethically. More importantly, we see no compelling justification that this technology needs to exist in human hands. After all, the development of killer robots isn’t a necessary step on the road to self-driving cars, robot caregivers, safer manufacturing plants, or any of the other multitudes of ways autonomous robots can make our lives better. Robotics is at a tipping point, and it’s up to all of us to decide what path this technology takes.

We call on anyone who has the potential to influence public policy to stop the development of killer robots before it’s too late.

We encourage those who might see business opportunities in this technology to seek other ways to apply their skills and resources for the betterment of humankind. Finally, we ask everyone to consider the many ways in which this technology would change the face of war for the worse. Voice your opinion and take a stance. #killerrobots


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