Tensions escalated when the Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone who they suspect infiltrated Israel early Saturday before launching an attack on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, Reuters reported. Israel, upon discovering the drone hovering over their territory, shot it down and sent warp...
It is easy to confuse the current geopolitical situation with that of the 1980s. The United States and Russia each accuse the other of interfering in domestic affairs. Russia has annexed territory over U.S. objections, raising concerns about military conflict. As during the Cold War after World War II, nations are developing and building weapons based on advanced technology. During the Cold War, the weapon of choice was nuclear missiles; today it's software, whether its used for attacking computer systems or targets in the real world.
The United States Department of Defense announced it is offering grants to build bat-like drones that can be powered by lasers as part of its Defense Enterprise Science Initiative. The opportunity is open to submissions through Feb. 28 as the Pentagon looks for emerging technology that can help it build "new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making." In a Broad Agency Announcement adding detail as to what the Department of Defense is seeking through its grant, the announcement invokes bats and flying insects as inspiration for the project. "The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials," the announcement reads. The description goes on to note that advances in technology--including improvements in sensors and miniaturization of powerful computing processors--as well as improvements of flight control algorithms should enable the creation of an autonomous drone that would operate akin to a free-flying creature like a bat.
The state firefighting service of California collaborated with a unit of California Air National Guard and deployed military wartime drones in order to receive real time photos and videos of the massive wildfire which spread across the area. According to a report by USA Today, this is only the third time such collaboration had taken place. The Reaper MQ-9, operated by the 163d Attack Wing at March Air Reserve Base in the Riverside County, will fly five miles above and transmit relevant information to commanders on the ground. This also includes information about spot-fire detection. Scott McLean, Deputy Chief of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said, "It's out of the way."
The Chinese military, Thursday, strongly condemned and opposed the trespassing of an Indian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) into Chinese airspace. India, on the same day, claimed that the UAV "lost control" and entered into Chinese territory through the Sikkim (a state in India) border. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, an Indian news website, India replied to the incident, Thursday, claiming that the UAV was on a "regular training mission," lost control and crossed the border area from Sikkim. A statement by the Indian Defense Ministry said: "An Indian UAV which was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the LAC [Line of Actual Control] in the Sikkim Sector. As per standard protocol, the Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV."
South Korea planned to introduce a new counter to North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program: drones. South Korean news wire agency Yonhap reported Tuesday that the nation planned to roll out a new weaponized drone unit next year. "The Army plans to set up a special organization to lead the development of dronebots, establish a standard platform and expand the dronebot program by function," an Army official told Yonhap, asking not be named because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter. "To begin with, we will launch a dronebot combat unit next year and use it as a'game changer' in warfare." The drones primary function will be for surveillance -- North Korea has launched a number of ballistic missile tests this year and many of them came without warning.
Sally Jones, a former punk rocker from Kent, United Kingdom, who gained notoriety as "Mrs Terror" after joining the Islamic State group (also called ISIS), was reportedly killed in a United States drone strike along with her 12-year old son Jojo in Syria as she tried to escape Raqqa, the Sun reported. Though Whitehall sources confirmed reports that Jones was killed, according to the Guardian, the Pentagon was unable to confirm the news. Jones collected another nickname -- White Widow --after Hussain was killed by a U.S. army drone in IS group capital of Raqqa in 2015. Metro reported that in a Twitter post after Hussain's death, Jones claimed she was "proud my husband was killed by the biggest enemy of Allah, may Allah be pleased with him."
However, going by the official video, it doesn't seem to be equipped for flying long distances. Unlike diesel or petrol vehicles, battery-powered flying vehicles are equipped to fly less than an hour, also the thin frame doesn't give room to add much payload to the vehicle and also limits the number of rotors on the vehicle. But the concept can be scaled up and made capable of flying long distances and carrying bigger payloads. But it is not just the Russian military, the U.S. military is also working on a similar concept with Malloy Aeronautics, but that concept currently has a robot riding the hoverbike.
Advantages of such weapons were discussed in a New York Times article published last year, which stated that speed and precision of the novel weapons could not be matched by humans. The official stance of the United States on such weapons, was discussed at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems held in 2016 in Geneva, where the U.S. said that "appropriate levels" of human approval was necessary for any engagement of autonomous weapons that involved lethal force. In 2015, numerous scientists and experts signed an open letter that warned that developing such intelligent weapons could set off a global arms race. A similar letter, urging the United Nations to ban killer robots or lethal autonomous weapons, was signed by world's top artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics companies in the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) held in Melbourne in August.
A coordinated international coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to bringing about a preemptive ban of fully autonomous weaponry -- The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots -- was started in April 2013. A breakthrough was reached in 2016 when the fifth review conference of the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) saw countries hold formal talks to expand their deliberations on fully autonomous weapons. The conference also saw the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) chaired by India's ambassador to the U.N., Amandeep Gill. According to Human Rights Watch, over a dozen countries are developing autonomous weapon systems.