Technology This swarm of flying, sailing, diving drones is a military first. Not everyone is happy about it
11th Hour Racing heads to sea to resume prep for Ocean Race
After sailing together in two round-the-world races, Brown alums Charlie Enright and Mark Towill are taking on different roles as 11th Hour Racing heads back out to sea to begin preparations for the 2022-23 Ocean Race. Towill will move off the boat to lead the team as CEO and Enright will skipper the crew, starting with the Ocean Race Europe that starts Saturday. Towill said he’s taking on the new role because while the size of the crew is decreasing due to a change in the class of boat, the scale of the overall operation has increased because 11th Hour Racing is designing and building a new boat, a foiling IMOCA 60, for the first time.
An autonomous swarm of six drones flew in the sky, dived underwater and crept over land to assist armed forces with various experimental missions in a first-of-its-kind exercise for the UK Royal Marines.
The uncrewed systems, and were tasked with various missions ranging from reconnaissance operations through delivering supplies to soldiers, to identifying and tracking targets of interest.
Gov't use of Chinese drones in limbo as Congress weighs ban
More than a year after the U.S. Interior Department grounded hundreds of Chinese-made drones it was using to track wildfires and monitor dams, volcanoes and wildlife, it's starting to look like they won't be flying again any time soon — if ever. A measure moving through Congress would impose a five-year ban on U.S. government purchases of drones manufactured or assembled in China. It reflects bipartisan concerns that devices made by companies such as DJI, which is based in Shenzhen, China, could facilitate Chinese spying on critical infrastructure.
Made up of six different types of drones, the swarm took over land, air, water and above-water environments, but was operated as one autonomously controlled unit from a single ground station.
This means that the systems worked together, sharing data from their sensors across a single communications network. For example, the drones were able to feed off each other's information and use sophisticated algorithms to accurately find, identity and track enemy targets.
The trial, called Autonomous Advance Force 4.0, was pitched as a first step towards integrating leading-edge technologies in the military.
'Like a flying ant': An operative describes how Mexico's cartels use drones to attack enemies and smuggle drugs
With a few rudimentary modifications, Mexican criminal groups can use commercial drones bought in the US as weapons or to move drugsThe bee-like sound of flying drones has become a new symbol for terror in small Mexican towns like Aguililla in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacan.
"Only by continued experimentation with the latest technology and innovation can we properly prepare our people for the challenges of the future," said senior Royal Navy officer Tony Radakin. "Autonomous Advance Force 4.0 is testing just how hybrid forces can operate on the battlefield, with elite Royal Marine Commandos enhancing their capabilities with the use of drone swarms."
During the experiment, Royal Marines strike teams on the ground were able to call on Malloy drones, which can lift up to 68 kilograms, thanks to a small tablet on their chest which they could tap to indicate their location and request the delivery of supplies, from ammunition through to blood for combat medics.
Another drone called the Ghost, which comes in the shape of an ultra-silent mini-helicopter that is very difficult to detect, was used capture thermal images and footage, and could also be tasked with finding targets within a zone.
Drug cartels attack enemies and spread terror with weaponized drones in US, Mexico
Like rogue militaries, Mexican drug cartels have upgraded their arsenals with weaponized drones that pose a growing threat in Mexico and the U.S.Suddenly, authorities said, a drone flew over, dropping a gunpowder bomb and wounding two members of the Michoacán state police force in the arms and legs.
Similarly, underwater systems were deployed to scan the oceans for mines and obstructions, and provide Marines with a better view of clear routes; an autonomous sea vessel called Madfox carried out reconnaissance operations and surveillance patrols to prepare the ground for soldiers to come ashore.
The swarm also came with Cobra drones, a flying system with a three-meter-long wingspan used for identifying and tracking targets. Completing the unit was a Tactical Precision Strike system, which is able to fly to the vicinity of a target and wait until a human operator specifies it to attack, in what is known as lethal loitering munition.
This drone, in particular, has raised concerns among experts who are worried about the prospect of bringing more autonomous systems in warfare.
"These trials mark a further dangerous escalation in the international robotic arms race," Stuart Parkinson, executive director of advocacy organization Scientists for Global Responsibility, tells ZDNet. "The use of armed drones with autonomous capabilities is especially frightening, and takes us another step closer to a world where drones make life and death decisions about whether to launch weapons."
Police in Malaysia are using drones to check people's temperatures amid a COVID-19 surge
The drones can detect body temperatures from up to 65 feet in the air, the Malaysian state police said on Sunday.The drones have been rolled out in Malaysia's Terengganu state for the past three days, Channel News Asia reported, citing a state police statement from Monday.
The rise of autonomous weapons, often also referred to as "killer robots," has been a point of contention for many years, with a debate arising between defendants of the adoption of new technologies in defense and those in favor of establishing red lines in the sector.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Association of the UK urged the UK government to support an UN-wide treaty that would legally prohibit the use of autonomous weapons, but was faced with resistance, with ministers, and putting forward concerns that a legally binding instrument might hamper innovation.
"Global public opinion is firmly against autonomous weapons, so our government needs to change direction quickly," says Parkinson.
Rather than backtracking on the objective of infusing the armed forces with new technologies, the UK government has firmly reiterated its interest in deploying new tools for defense that are adapted to the digital age.
New plans to, together with a £24 billion ($33 billion) budget for the next four years. Artificial intelligence and AI-enabled autonomous capabilities were presented as essential to this drive towards modernization.
No less than £2 billion ($2.7 billion) were unlocked to expand drone capabilities, with uncrewed systems seen as a key tool to venture into dangerous enemy territories while keeping human soldiers safe – while also playing an important role in re-supplying and assisting troops even in tricky environments.
It is unlikely, therefore, that the UK government will scale back its efforts in autonomous systems anytime soon. After UK-based experiments, Autonomous Advance Force 4.0 is expected to continue in the US later this year in the Californian desert, to trial ever-more complex environments and scenarios.
Putin observes war games with Belarus that worry neighbors .
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has observed military exercises being conducted in coordination with Belarus that have raised concerns in bordering countries. Putin on Monday attended exercises at a training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region, 450 kilometers (275 miles) east of Moscow. The exercises included what the Defense Ministry said was the first use in a combat environment of two new robotic fighting vehicles that are equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers.