WASHINGTON (AFP) - Going off to war has always meant risking your life, but a wave of robotic weaponry may be changing that centuries-old truth. The pilots who fly US armed drones over Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan sit with a joystick thousands of kilometres away, able to pull the trigger without being exposed to danger. Other robots under development could soon ferry supplies on dangerous routes and fire at enemy tanks. The explosion in unmanned vehicles offers the seductive possibility of a country waging war without having to put its own soldiers or civilians in the line of fire. But analysts say the technology raises a host of ethical and legal questions, while political and military leaders have yet to fully grasp its implications. Whats the effect on our politics? To be able to carry out operations with less human cost makes great sense. It is a great thing, you save lives, said Peter Singer, author of Wired for War. On the other hand, it may make you more cavalier about the use of force, he told AFP. Commanders see unmanned vehicles as crucial to gaining the edge in combat and saving soldiers lives, freeing up troops from what the military calls dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. Cruise missiles and airstrikes have already made war a more remote event for the American public. Now, robots could offer the tantalising scenario of pain-free military action, said Lawrence Korb, a former US assistant secretary of defence. That raises the whole larger question - does it make it too easy to go to war, not just here or anyplace else? he said. US officials insist a human will always be in the loop when it comes to pulling the trigger, but analysts warn that supervising robotic systems could become complicated as the technology progresses. Even if humans can still veto the use of force, the reality of numerous robots in combat producing a stream of information and requiring split-second decisions could prove daunting. Future robotic weapons will be too fast, too small, too numerous and will create an environment too complex for humans to direct, Col (r) Thomas Adams is quoted as saying in Wired for War. Innovations with robots are rapidly taking us to a place where we may not want to go, but probably are unable to avoid, he said. The military is still trying to figure out how an armed robot on the ground should be designed and operated to conform to the law of armed conflict, said Ellen Purdy, the Pentagons enterprise director of joint ground robotics.