When the war when he arrived in the district of Syarhei Sotnichenko in March 2022, he found that he was conducting daily performances for drones that buzzed continuously overhead. Desperate to prove that he was not a combatant, he donned an orange hoodie, which of all the clothes he had on was the least likely to be mistaken for a military uniform. He was trying to show the drones that he was doing innocent things like planting onions. Sometimes he waved.

That March was a nightmarishly brutal month for the outskirts of Kiev, including Irpen, where Sotnichenko lives, but there were moments when he allowed himself to be comforted by the drones flying over him. He imagined how the Ukrainian army was watching his petty acts of resistance. “It calmed me down because I felt like I wanted to show them that we’re hanging on,” he says, speaking through an interpreter provided by the Museum of Civilian Voices, a project documenting the experiences of ordinary people in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine.

But when Sotnichenko saw Russian armored vehicles driving through Irpin, firing indiscriminately at the houses around him, he realized that the drones were not on his side. “I started hiding from all the drones,” he says. “Sometimes I hid under trees or behind branches. Sometimes I managed to escape to my basement.’ When a drone appeared over Sotnichenko and his 77-year-old mother as they tried to escape from Irpen, they ran from it, certain that it would kill them.

The way Sotnichenko’s perception of drones has changed from an ally to an enemy this month echoes the changes that have occurred for civilians in Ukraine. At the beginning of the war, Turkish-made Bayraktar drones became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. But as the war entered its second year, Ukraine’s gains were overshadowed by Russian bombings of Iranian kamikaze drones, which were used to target energy infrastructure and plunge parts of the country into darkness.

The war in Ukraine is the first large-scale conflict where drones were widely used by both sides. This has made it a crucible of innovation as both invader and defender experiment and refine their technology and tactics. But now experts warn that the proliferation of drones is forcing militaries — in Ukraine and beyond — to hand over more and more control to artificial intelligence and eventually move to systems that can operate on the battlefield without human intervention.

“The massive use of drones in the war in Ukraine is pushing for more AI-controlled weapon systems,” says Wim Zweinenburg, head of the humanitarian disarmament project at PAX, a Dutch organization that advocates ending armed violence. This, he warns, will create a slippery slope. “The defensive excuse can easily turn offensive when the genie is out of the bottle.”

In the early days of the Russian invasion, drones were mostly used as surveillance tools, like the ones Sotnichenko saw over Irpen. Russian forces used Orlan-10 drones to monitor troop movements and assess artillery damage. But it was Ukraine’s use of the Bayraktar TB2, manufactured by the Turkish company Baykar, that changed the public perception of drone warfare.

Source by [author_name]

Previous articleHow your brain data can be used against you
Next articleAmazon has a problem with donkey meat