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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

China's Space Ambitions are Growing

NATTY yellow carts whizz tourists around Wenchang space port, a sprawling launch site on the tropical island of Hainan. The brisk tour passes beneath an enormous poster of Xi Jinping, China’s president, then disgorges passengers for photographs not far from a skeletal launch tower. Back at the visitor centre there is a small exhibition featuring space suits, a model moon-rover and the charred husk of a re-entry capsule that brought Chinese astronauts back from orbit. A gift shop at the exit sells plastic rockets, branded bottle openers and cuddly alien mascots.

The base in a township of Wenchang city is the newest of China’s four space-launch facilities. It is also by far the easiest to visit—thanks in part to the enthusiasm of officials in Hainan, a haven for tourists and rich retirees. Wenchang’s local government has adopted a logo for the city reminiscent of Starfleet badges in “Star Trek”. It is building a space-themed tourist village near the launch site, with attractions that include a field of vegetables grown from seeds that have been carried in spaceships.

If the dream is to turn this palm-fringed corner of Hainan into a tourist trap comparable to Florida’s balmy space coast, there is still a lot to do. Several idle building sites suggest that some investors have gambled rashly. Signs have been taken down from a patch of scrub that was once earmarked for an amusement centre. On a recent weekday, pensioners wintering nearby were among the few visitors to the launch site. A local says that people often come out feeling like they have had a lesson in patriotism, but not much fun.

Perhaps this will change when Wenchang gets up to speed. The base is crucial to China’s extraterrestrial ambitions because it is the only site from which it can launch its latest and largest rocket, the Long March 5 (pictured). Narrow railway tunnels limit the size of the components that can be delivered to the three other bases. Rockets are anyway more efficient the closer they are launched to the equator, where the faster rotation of Earth provides extra lift. Of China’s launch centres, Wenchang is by far the nearest to that sweet spot.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Boston Dynamics Mini Spot can Open Doors

China Might Beat the Rest of the World to an Exascale Supercomputer

China's rise to the top of the supercomputing world has been swift. It's only been in this decade that the country first claimed bragging rights to the world's most powerful supercomputer. It has held a tight grip on those rights the last few years. The United States is expected to reclaim the top spot later this year, as it is nearing completion of Summit, a supercomputer that is expected to be twice as powerful as its closest rival. Nevertheless, China is widely expected to produce the first supercomputer capable of carrying out 1 billion billion calculations per second, or 1 exaflop. If this exascale supercomputer comes online in 2020 as promised, that could put it a year or more ahead of similar exascale systems now being developed in the United States, Japan, and the European Union.