Russian Battle Bot Development Could Eclipse US Program


Even though military assets inherited by Russia from the former Soviet Union were less advanced than the US arsenal, it’s no secret that the Kremlin has been developing weaponized armed forces robotics – from unmanned vehicles to fully autonomous artificial intelligence.

The Russian military has been testing unmanned ground vehicles over the last few years, including the Nerekhta, the Uran-9, and the Vikhr, as reported by Business Insider.

The Nerekhta, a tracked unmanned ground vehicle, can be equipped with large-caliber machine guns, an AG-30M grenade launcher and anti-tank guided missiles.

The Uran-9 and Vikhr are heavier than the Nerekhta and operate like infantry fighting vehicles. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Nerekhta functioned better than other manned vehicles during training sessions.

In addition, Moscow has made great progress in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, known to be smaller and cheaper than US drones. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the country’s unmanned aerial vehicles have flown 16,000 missions in Syria — equivalent to 96,000 hours of flight time.

The chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Bondarev, recently announced that Russia is studying the concept of drone “swarms” — defined as dozens or more drones operating as a single unit.

Noticing Russia’s recent improved electronic-warfare technologies, the US Army has stepped up its development of an electronic-warfare system to be integrated into a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system.

The Pentagon’s Integrated Electronic Warfare System will consist of the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) capability and the Defensive Electronic Attack capability. The MFEW system is a multifunctional cyber, electronic warfare, communications intelligence, electronic intelligence and signal intelligence platform.

According to sources within the Pentagon, the development of autonomous combat drones “could be a game-changer,” cited by Defense One.

But the Kremlin is already a step ahead as, in early November, Bondarev announced that Russia plans to integrate artificial intelligence into military vehicles and combat operations, despite warnings by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk that AI weaponry may cause a global arms race culminating in a third world war.

“The day is nearing when vehicles will get artificial intelligence. So why not entrust aviation or air defense to them?” Bondarev said.



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Plug Wars: The Battle for Electric Car Supremacy

Plug Wars: The Battle for Electric Car Supremacy

January 27th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

German carmakers hope a network of high-power charging stations they are rolling out with Ford will set an industry standard for plugs and protocols that will give them an edge over electric car rivals.

At the moment, Tesla and carmakers in Japan and Germany use different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers, but firms building the charging networks needed for electric vehicles to become mainstream say the number of plug formats will need to be limited to keep costs down.

Carmakers behind the winning technology will benefit from having an established supply chain and an extensive network, making their vehicles potentially more attractive to customers worried about embarking upon longer journeys, analysts say.

Manufacturers that back losing plugs, however, could end up with redundant research and development and may have to invest to adapt assembly lines and vehicle designs so their customers can use the most widespread fast-charging networks.

Swiss bank UBS has estimated that $360 billion will need to be spent over the next eight years to build global charging infrastructure to keep pace with electric car sales, and it will be key to limit the numerous technologies now in use.



One Response to “Plug Wars: The Battle for Electric Car Supremacy”

  1. Dennis Says:

    If this doesn’t get sorted: Car-charging dongles.


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Battle Over Contested Virginia House Of Delegates Seat Will Drag On

The dramatic race for a Virginia House of Delegates seat that could decide which party controls the chamber — a race that’s come down to a name-drawing — is expected to continue into the new year.

After postponing the original name-drawing earlier this week, James Alcorn, chair of the state’s Board of Elections, on Friday rescheduled the name-drawing for Jan. 4 “unless the court system intervenes.”

On the eve of the original name-drawing Wednesday, Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a court motion contesting a previous decision to count a contested ballot for her opponent, Republican incumbent David Yancey.

If Simonds were to win the seat, Republicans would lose their majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates after 17 years.

The court has yet to address the matter, as some of its judges are out of town for the holidays.

“Drawing names is an action of last resort,” Alcorn said Wednesday. “Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted.”

The turmoil over the seat has dragged on for more than a month. A recount originally proclaimed Simonds the winner by a mere one vote. Yancey then won a lawsuit that allowed a previously uncounted ballot to be counted as marked for him ― bringing the race to a tie.

Virginia House Democrats have called Yancey’s lawsuit a “desperate effort to change the outcome and steal the election” from Simonds.

“The court erred both in admitting the ballot for consideration, which broke the rules of the citizen-led recount process, as well as in counting the ballot for Yancey, which, according to guidelines from the State Board of Elections, had already been accurately classified as an overvote by both the Democratic and the Republican observers,” House Democratic Caucus spokesperson Katie Baker said in a statement Friday.

Virginia state law indicates that electoral ties should be resolved “by lot.” The candidate “who loses the determination by lot” could call for another recount.

This article has been updated with a statement from the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Finnish broadcaster under fire over fake Soviet ‘Battle Moose’ story


Finland’s national television and radio company Yle has come under heavy scrutiny for violating journalistic ethical guidelines for its notorious piece about “battle moose” the Red Army allegedly trained during WW2.

Finland’s Council for Mass Media (JSN) claimed national broadcaster Yle violated a number of paragraphs of the Journalist Ethical Rules when it published an article about the Soviet Union allegedly training “combat moose” to attack the enemy.

A review of the story revealed that Yle’s controversial article was based on an April Fool’s joke published in Russian media in 2010. Not only did Yle fail to make corresponding remarks about it in the text, as required by the ethical rules, but it also used manipulated images to illustrate the story.

The original joke article “Horned Cavalry” first appeared in the Russian magazine Popular Mechanics, which has a long tradition of publishing hilarious April Fool’s pieces.

The sham article, which glorified “battle moose” as the “unsung heroes” of the Finnish War, featured fake quotes by USSR leader Joseph Stalin, who “lauded” moose tamers for “having raised real Soviet animals,” as well as heavily photoshopped images of the magazine’s staff posing as Red Army men mounting a Degtyaryov machine gun on a moose’s horns. It also featured an obviously fake brochure on “The Use of Moose in Red Army Cavalry Units” modeled on the military literature of that time.

However, many people appeared to have fallen for the prank, as the article was subsequently heavily reprinted, with quotes from it regularly appearing in the Wikipedia article about moose. A museum in the Russian town of Lakhdenpokhya in the Republic of Karelia was even later found to sport “unique photographs of battle moose the Soviet Army trained for four years.”

This summer, Soviet battle moose became a hit in Finnish media, as a number of newspapers, including Iltalehti, followed Yle’s example and came up with their own breakthrough stories of the Red Army’s prowess in taming moose.

Although Yle later discovered the delusion, it failed to correct the factual errors in the original article in accordance with journalistic instructions. Also, the manipulated images were used without informing the public.

In reality, attempts to domesticate the moose were made as early as the 19th century by Russian zoologist and explorer Alexander von Middendorff. In the Soviet Union, Pyotr Manteufel repeated attempts to tame the moose in the 1930s. After the war, the idea of domesticating the moose was pursued again, with the focus on agricultural use. In 1949, a moose farm was launched in the Komi Republic in northern Russia. In the 1960s, yet another moose farm was established in Kostroma Region. Both of them still keep herds, primarily for milk production and harvesting antler velvet and are open to the public.

Contrary to popular myth, the large and sturdy moose don’t take to being ridden. Which is why the famous photograph of US President Theodore Roosevelt allegedly riding a bull moose, a symbol of the Progressive Party, is also a fake.

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Russia Starts T-90S Main Battle Tank Deliveries To Iraq

Russian Tank T-90S

DUBAI, November 15. /TASS/. Russia is implementing a contract for the delivery of T-90S main battle tanks to Iraq, the press office of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation told TASS at the Dubai Airshow 2017 on Wednesday.

“The contract is being implemented in accordance with the schedule approved by the parties,” the press office said.

Russia’s Uralvagonzavod defense manufacturer said in its report for 2016 that the corporation intended to implement two contracts in 2017 for the delivery of T-90S/SK main battle tanks. The first contract for 64 tanks was concluded with foreign customer No. 704 ~ Vietnam. The second contract was signed with foreign customer No. 368 ~ Iraq, under which the first delivery batch will include 73 tanks.

According to the all-Russian Country Classifier, Vietnam is customer No. 704 and Iraq is customer No. 368.

TASS Russian News Agency

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Re: What you need to know about the post-Daesh battle for the Mideast

With Daesh in fatal decline and the edges of Kurdistan afire, the Middle East is entering a new era, dominated by the Saudi-Iranian power struggle. The United States, which did so much via its unnecessary invasion of Iraq and tragic handling of the post-incursion period to nurture the growth of Daesh, will be largely missing from the scene. Instead, the struggle will, as it did during the fight against the Sunni extremists of Daesh, involve shifting Sunni and Shi’ite allegiances.

For the moment, there seems to be an easing in the historic tensions between the two main – and often warring – branches of Islam. Religious differences are not the focus; this is a classic geopolitical power struggle for control of Iraq, Syria, and Kurdistan, and for expanding diplomatic and strategic reach throughout the region.

Iran is lined up to be the big winner in Syria. Daesh’s defeat will significantly lessen Sunni influence, and Tehran’s role as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s protector will only increase now that it appears Assad will remain in control of some portion of the country. Iran will have pieced together a land corridor to the Mediterranean. The Saudis will be left with little influence.

Read More: 128 bodies found in Syria town held by Daesh

The same goes for the United States. American forces have been largely relegated to playing traffic cop among various on-again off-again allies such as the Turks and Kurds, each with its own agenda in Syria. Any influence Washington thinks it still has is further diluted by the presence of the Russians, who are there to support Assad while maintaining a permanent presence in the heart of the Middle East. American efforts may wind up as little more than fumbling around to keep Israel and Jordan from overreacting to the increased Iranian influence on their borders.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, Riyadh appears to be pivoting towards warmer relations with the Shi’ite government in Baghdad. That a Saudi airline is announcing the first return of direct service between the two countries since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 is no coincidence, nor is it an isolated event.

The Saudis also appear ready to take advantage of a looming intra-Shi’ite power struggle in Baghdad among Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr, the most religiously zealous of the group, has always been something of a nationalist and is wary of Iranian influence. It is thus not surprising he made friendly trips under official invitation to Sunni Riyadh, and the United Arab Emirates, in recent months.

Read More: As relations thaw, Saudi Arabia and Iraq pledge cooperation against Daesh

Sadr is an interesting choice for the Saudis to use to gain influence in Baghdad. Real progress for Riyadh means untangling years of close Iranian cooperation in Iraq, to include limiting the power of the Iranian-backed militias. Sadr has significant influence in that respect, and can use his popularity and credibility to sell Saudi cooperation to his followers who remember Saudi funding of al Qaeda in Iraq and Daesh over the years. Enhancing Sadr’s Shi’ite religious status can further Sunni Saudi goals. During his visit, the Saudis gifted Sadr with $10 million for “rebuilding,” and also astutely threw in some visas for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage for Sadr to distribute.

Iraqi security forces celebrate after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul, Syria on July 9, 2017 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]Iraqi security forces celebrate after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul, Syria on July 9, 2017 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi security forces celebrate after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul, Syria on 9 July 2017 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]

The Saudis otherwise have little to work with in Iraq compared to Iran. Tehran’s ties to officials in Baghdad are just a tiny part of a deep relationship forged in the bloody fight against the American occupiers and the ousting of Daesh. Iranian money continues to support Iraq, and the Shi’ite militias are still mostly under Iranian influence.


Iran is also probably the most stable Muslim nation in the Middle East. It has existed more or less within its current borders for thousands of years, and is largely religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogeneous (though keep an eye on the Kurdish minority.) While governed in significant part by its clerics, the country has held a series of increasingly democratic elections. And unlike the Saudi monarchs, Iran’s leaders do not rule in fear of an Islamic revolution. They already had one.

Power struggles create flashpoints, and the Saudi-Iranian fight post-Daesh is no exception. The Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Yemen has settled into a version of World War One-style trench warfare, with neither side strong enough to win nor weak enough to lose. In an ugly form of stasis, the conflict seems likely to stay within its present borders.

Read More: Raqqa fall ‘critical breakthrough,’ end of Daesh in sight

The powder keg is Kurdistan. Though arguably a de facto state since 2003, after the Kurds voted formally voted for independence in a Sept. 25 referendum, Iran and the Iranian-backed government in Baghdad were pressed to make clear they will not tolerate an actual Kurdish nation. With Daesh nearly defeated and combat-tested Shi’ite militias ready for their next tasks, Tehran and Baghdad no longer need to keep the Kurds on their side. Fighting has already broken out around Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in Iraqi Kurdistan, between forces supported by Baghdad/Tehran and Kurdish fighters – leaving a gap for the Saudis to offer financial or covert support to the Iraqi Kurds.

Saudi involvement could morph an Iraqi civil war into a new proxy struggle right on Iran’s own western border, with the possible complication of further unrest inside Iran by its Kurdish minority.

While it may seem odd to write about the changing balance of power in the Middle East largely leaving out the United States, that may well describe America’s range of options post-Daesh.

Washington’s influence in Baghdad is limited and relations with Iran are in shambles under the Trump administration. It is highly unlikely America will join Iran to fight against Kurdish allies who helped defeat Daesh. Nor are American troops likely to battle Iranian-led militias in support of Kurdish independence that Washington says it doesn’t really support right now.

That leaves the United States sidelined, with few options other than perhaps supporting the Saudis from afar in whatever anti-Iranian meddling they do in Iraq. A long fall from the heady days of 2003 when America was going to remake the Middle East. The victor after some 14 years of overlapping struggles? In the post-Daesh Middle East, look for Tehran to emerge dominant.

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