Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Russian Mercenaries are Leading the Attacks on American Troops and Allies in Syria

American forces in Syria, along with their local partners, have now weathered two separate attacks from troops fighting on behalf of dictator Bashar Al Assad, one of which almost certainly involved some number of Russian military personnel or contractors from a company called Wagner. Though the United States soundly defeated its opponents in both cases, the incidents could be another sign of increasingly worrisome tensions with Russia in Syria as the situation in the country careens toward a larger regional conflagration.

On Feb. 13, 2018, U.S. personnel called in a air strike, involving an MQ-9 Reaper drone, to destroy a T-72 tank that had been firing at them and members of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the bulk of which are Kurdish fighters, on the eastern side of the Euphrates River near Syria’s strategic city of Deir ez-Zor.

Almost a week earlier, those same American troops had summoned a massive amount of air and artillery support to brush back approximately 500 pro-Assad fighters and members of Wagner armed with tanks and other heavy weapons who assaulted their positions. The SDF and their U.S. advisers are situated to the east of a formal de-confliction line that is supposed to separate United States and Russian military activities and, by extension, those of their allies, specifically to avoid these sorts of dangerous engagements that could escalate into a larger conflict. The first skirmish reportedly resulted in the deaths of dozens of Russian private military contractors, who often act as deniable stand-ins for the Kremlin’s own forces.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Russia has Successfully Tested a Modernized Missile Defense Interceptor

The Air and Space Forces conducted a successful test launch of a "new modernized interceptor of the Russian missile defense system" at the Sary-Shagan test site. According to a VKS spokesman, the new interceptor has better accuracy and range and extended service life.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Russian MoD has Ordered two Battalions of T-14 Armata Tanks

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov has confirmed an order for two battalions of T-14 main battle tanks (MBTs), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on its website on 9 February.

The order for the T-14 MBTs and T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) is understood to have been placed in December 2017. Touring the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil, Russia, Borisov said, “It’s no secret that we already have a contract for trials and combat operations: two battalions of Armata tanks and one battalion of heavy infantry fighting vehicles.” Both vehicles are based on the Armata common platform.

This is, iirc, only 60 tanks and 30 IFVs.

They are for evaluation and extended trials.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Which Countries are Embracing the Robopocalyse the Fastest?

The top 10 most automated countries in the world are: South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Italy, Belgium and Taiwan. This is according to the 2017 World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“Robot density is an excellent standard for comparison in order to take into account the differences in the automation degree of the manufacturing industry in various countries,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “As a result of the high volume of robot installations in Asia in recent years, the region has the highest growth rate. Between 2010 and 2016, the average annual growth rate of robot density in Asia was 9 percent, in the Americas 7 percent and in Europe 5 percent.”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Robopocalypse Report #99 (mini version)

DOT Secretary Elaine Chao thinks deregulation will help autonomous vehicles come to market faster.

US DOT called a summit on self driving cars on March 1st.

Driverless cars might not actually help with traffic and other problems, according to some.

Will self driving cars actually kill car ownership in 2030?

How do you get people to trust self driving cars more?  By making them act like people?!

A motorcyclist that got in a dust up with a GM/Cruise self driving car is suing the company.  This might set legal precedent for who is liable for the self driving vehicle.

Byton will get its self driving tech from Aurora.

Continental, the German car components maker, has selected NVIDIA as its computational core for its self driving products.

Data released by California show the self driving cars being developed are needing human intervention less and less.

Didi has teamed with Renault-Nissan to start a self driving car service in China. released its report on progress on its autonomous vehicles.

Embark's self driving semi drove from California to Florida.  Or is was the semi semi autonomous?

Ford patented the concept of an autonomous police car.  It's not robocop.

A convoy of autonomous Hyundais drove from Seoul to Pyeongchang.

Mclaren's will have autonomous tech in the future.

Nuro wants to use self driving cars to deliver packages.

Rimac's new hypercar will have a 120 kwh battery and level 4 autonomy.  Supposedly.

The Teamster's Union is demanding UPS NOT use drones or self driving vehicles as part of the contract negotiations.  You would think a union that takes its name from those people who used to drive teams of horses would be a bit sharper than that.

Tesla keeps having people try to trick its Autopilot software into allowing hands free driving.

Tesla is still planning the delayed coast to coast self driving car demo.

A Toyota exec claims self driving cars will kill mass market cars, except for luxury and performance cars.  This is a possible outcome in metropolitan areas, but out back home in New Mexico and other 'fly over' places, I bet that will not work.  The density will be too low.

Uber claims self driving trucks will result in more, not less truck drivers on the road.

Uber and Lyft want to ban nonfleet self driving cars from dense urban cores.  Some are decrying that.

Uber vs Waymo trial over theft of self driving car tech got under way Monday.  What was learned on day one of the trial?  In opening statements, Uber and Waymo throw some lightning bolts.  Levandowski considered selling Otto to Lyft.  Uber and Waymo reached a settlement where Waymo would get .34 % (or roughly at the current valuation of Uber of ~$245 million).  Uber was able to negotiate down the settlement from ~$500 million.

Udelv has started testing autonomous delivery vehicles in San Mateo, California.

Waymo is buying thousands of FCA minivans for its expanding Phoenix area self driving car service.

Waymo's cars are the most advanced.

Yandex's self driving car tech is making progress.  Watch their self driving car navigate Moscow.

Friday, February 16, 2018

When a Flying Car Crashes...

2004 EW95: A C Type Asteroid Found in Kuiper Belt


Seccull et al


Models of the Solar System's dynamical evolution predict the dispersal of primitive planetesimals from their formative regions amongst the gas-giant planets due to the early phases of planetary migration. Consequently, carbonaceous objects were scattered both into the outer asteroid belt and out to the Kuiper Belt. These models predict that the Kuiper Belt should contain a small fraction of objects with carbonaceous surfaces, though to date, all reported visible reflectance spectra of small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) are linear and featureless. We report the unusual reflectance spectrum of a small KBO, (120216) 2004 EW95, which exhibits a large drop in its near-UV reflectance and a broad shallow optical absorption feature centered at ~700 nm. These features, confirmed through multiple epochs of spectral photometry and spectroscopy, have respectively been associated with ferric oxides and phyllosilicates. The spectrum bears striking resemblance to those of some C-type asteroids, suggesting that those objects may share a common origin with 2004 EW95. 2004 EW95 orbits the Sun in a stable mean motion resonance with Neptune, at relatively high eccentricity and inclination, suggesting it may have been emplaced there by some past dynamical instability. These results appear consistent with the aforementioned model predictions and are the first to show a reliably confirmed detection of silicate material on a small KBO.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

China Conducted Another Missile Defense Test

China has successfully carried out another test of an anti-missile intercept system, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, describing it as defensive and not aimed at any country.

China has been ramping up research into all sorts of missiles, from those which can destroy satellites in space to advanced nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, as part of an ambitious modernization scheme overseen by President Xi Jinping.

The Defence Ministry said in a brief statement the “ground-based midcourse anti-missile intercept technology” had been tested on Monday within China’s borders.

“The test reached its expected goals,” the ministry said. “This test was defensive and not aimed at any country.”

It provided no other details.