According to The South China Morning Post, more than 27 boys and four girls all under the age of 18 were chosen for a four-year "experimental program for intelligent weapons systems" at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) from more than 5,000 candidates.
The BIT is one of the country's top weapons research institutes, and the launch of the new program is evidence of the weight it places on the development of AI technology for military use.
A BIT professor involved in the programme said that the kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough.
"We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges", he said. "A passion for developing new weapons is a must ... and they must also be patriots."
Two senior weapons scientists will mentor each student, one from an academic background and the other from the defence industry.
After completing a short programme of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics, or overall weapon design.
They will then be assigned to a relevant defence laboratory where they can develop their skills through hands-on experience.