China is allegedly developing and testing a fleet of autonomous tanks that could eventually be paired with artificial intelligence systems.
Reuters, citing a China's state-run newspaper, claims the country is working on its own unmanned tanks as part of plans to modernise its armed forces.
Chinese state journalists managed to get hold of photos and videos detailing the unmanned tanks, which are currently thought to be undergoing testing.
Videos show one of the tanks, which is codenamed Type 59, being controlled by officials remotely (below). This is thought to be the first time that visuals of China's unmanned tank have made their way into the public spotlight.
無人戦車(59式改) pic.twitter.com/cECf9uV1Ej— OedoSoldier (@OedoSoldier) March 15, 2018
However, the tank is not exactly a new invention. It takes design cues from a Soviet Union model from the early 90s, which China first got its hands on in the 1950s.
The newspaper claims that Chinese military officials plan to combine the tanks with data taken from satellites, aircraft and navy ships.
Speaking to the newspaper, Tank and Armoured Vehicle editor Liu Qingshan said: "A large number of due-to-retire Type 59 tanks can be converted into unmanned vehicles equipped with artificial intelligence."
Looking to take on the United States, China is currently in the process of modernising its military and recently revealed plans to increase defence spending by 8.1 per cent over the next year.
At the start of the month, Reuters reported that China's 2018 defence budget will total 1.11 trillion yuan ($175bn). It is looking to fund new fighter aircraft, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.
In a nationwide speech, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the country is to "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests".
He said China is "faced with profound changes in the national security environment". The news also comes as the country's president, Xi Jinping, was recently given a lifetime term in office.
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