Today, the U.S. Navy released this footage of an X-47B unmanned combat drone being lifted onto the U.S.S. Harry Truman aircraft carrier. Remarkably, the X-47B is the first drone that doesn’t require a human to pilot it from the ground–it’s run entirely by a computer algorithm. And while traditional unmanned aircraft are capable of flying for roughly 10 hours at a time, this one can be programmed with a mission of up to 30 hours, then left to do its work until it returns. The drone, which was built by Northrop Grumman under a $635.8 million contract, is theoretically precise enough to land on an aircraft carrier on its own, and while it’s still in an experimental phase, it’s expected to make its first landing next year.
If fully computer-controlled airborne killing machines aren’t a sign of the coming robot apocalypse, I don’t know what is. And I can’t tell whether to be terrified or weirdly impressed. Perhaps the X-47B is the drone TMZ should be going after.