Ukraine vows to build ‘army of robots’ to help crush Putin’s forces – including self-driving vehicles, AI-powered machine guns and the next generation of air-defence sensors
- Mykhailo Fedorov has overseen dozens of Soviet-legacy laws being scrapped to encourage creation of next generation of weapons
Ukraine has vowed to build an army of robots to help crush Putin’s forces, including self-driving vehicles, AI-powered machine guns and the next generation of air-defence sensors.
Kyiv’s youngest government minister Mykhailo Fedorov has overseen dozens of Soviet-legacy laws being scrapped to encourage the creation of the next generation of weapons for Ukraine’s armed struggle against Russia, The Sunday Telegraph reports
More than 200 companies from Ukraine are involved in the effort, helped by state procurement rules being lightened and the establishment of a free-market.
Fedorov’s mission has been compared with America’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, a U.S. government agency created in 1958 to facilitate research in technology with potential military applications, best known for an early network of time-sharing computers that formed the basis of the Internet.
‘You know war starts with one level of technology and ends with a totally different level of technology,’ Fedorov told the newspaper from his office in Kyiv.
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov, head of the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine Yurii Shchyhol and First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine
Putin’s new Marker robot tanks arrive in Ukraine to be tested in war conditions
The 32-year-old Minister of Digital Transformation is aware that technology can help to save lives when fighting against a country with a much larger population.
Fedorov added: ‘We don’t have many people and we value the lives of every soldier.’
His latest creation will seen an ‘Army of Robots’ perform tasks that soldiers from Ukraine would generally risk endangering their lives to do.
Automated machine guns with artificially-intelligent aiming systems have already been put into action.
The production of robots that can place down mines and dig up explosives have also been featured in recent announcements.
‘We want robots that can absorb as much of the enemy’s firepower as possible, so we can be flexible and avoid losing the lives of our soldiers,’ Fedorov said.
Fedorov hopes to see fleets of self-driving vehicles that can shift weapons, deliver ammunition and evacuate injured front line troops.
Successful tests have already taken place on a new breed of air-defence sensors that utilise secretive technologies, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
They can assist with identifying Russian drones and missiles, as well as track their final path using technology designed in Ukraine that completely differs from the radar systems donated to Kyiv by Nato countries.
READ MORE: Fully autonomous killer combat robots could soon be used in warfare because of rapid advances in drone technology in Ukraine, experts warn
Military and artificial intelligence experts say the longer the war lasts, the more likely it becomes that drones will be used to identify, select and attack targets without help from humans.
Russia has already been pummelling Kyiv with Shahed-136 drones supplied by Iran, wreaking terror with the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which overwhelmed air defences.
Fully autonomous AI is already helping to defend Ukraine. Utah-based Fortem Technologies has supplied the Ukrainian military with drone-hunting systems that combine small radars and unmanned aerial vehicles, both powered by AI.
The radars are designed to identify enemy drones, which the UAVs then disable by firing nets at them – all without human assistance.
Small-scale engineers in Ukraine are hoping to influence the war’s outcome with Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) that carry weapons and explosives or conduct reconnaissance.
Russia, too, has invested in UGVs including combat robots, and Ukraine wants to counter that, as it has done in the aerial drone sphere, by encouraging innovation among small enterprises.
Combat footage posted online shows how Moscow has already deployed remotely operated versions of old tanks packed with explosives that are sent towards Ukrainian positions.
It is also working on higher-tech, self-driving options such as the Marker UGV, which has demonstrated AI and machine learning capabilities and has been able to traverse through controlled environments without an operator, according to Samuel Bendett, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Of UGVs more broadly, he added: ‘The ultimate goal is to have these systems function autonomously in battle … with human operators, UAVs, aerial and manned assets in a networked environment … but we are far from that.’
Earlier this week, Russian drone strikes near the Khmelnytsky nuclear facility in western Ukraine revived anxiety among Kyiv’s officials and civilians about a winter assault on their nation’s energy grid.
Drone flying over war torn landscape (Stock Image)
President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed on Wednesday night that Kyiv would strike targets inside Russia if Moscow attempted to once again bring cold and darkness upon the nation.
‘This year we will not only defend ourselves but also respond,’ he said.
Kyiv now has a an expanding fleet of long-range drones and has shown its ability to strike military targets deep inside of Russia.
Overnight on Saturday, Russian air defense shot down over 30 Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea and the Crimean peninsula, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
‘The air defense systems in place destroyed 36 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the Black Sea and the northwestern part of the Crimean peninsula,’ the ministry wrote on Telegram.
Local authorities in the southern Krasnodar region bordering the Black Sea said that a fire broke out at an oil refinery in the early hours of Sunday, but did not specify the cause.
‘The reasons for the incident are being established,’ a statement from local authorities said, amid claims in local media outlets that the fire had been caused by a drone strike or debris from a downed drone.
Drone strikes and shelling on the Russian border regions and Moscow-annexed Crimea are a regular occurrence. Ukrainian officials never acknowledge responsibility for attacks on Russian territory or the Crimean peninsula.
In Ukraine, the country’s air force said on Sunday it had shot down five Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones launched by Russia overnight.
Close to the front line in the country’s east, where Ukrainian and Russian forces are locked in a grinding battle for control, four police officers were wounded when a shell fired by Russian troops exploded by their police car in the city of Siversk, located in the partly occupied Donetsk province.
British intelligence assessed this weekend that Russia had suffered some of its biggest casualty rates so far this year as a result of continued ‘heavy but inconclusive’ fighting around the town of Avdiivka, also in the Donetsk province.
The UK Ministry of Defence’s regular intelligence update on Saturday morning noted that Russia had committed ‘elements of up to eight brigades’ in the area since it launched its ‘major offensive effort’ in mid-October.
Also on Sunday, a prominent ally of Putin warned that Russia might take action to seize assets of European Union member states it considers hostile if the EU proceeds with its plan to ‘steal’ frozen Russian funds to support Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction efforts.
‘A number of European politicians (…) have once again started talking about stealing our country´s frozen funds in order to continue the militarization of Kyiv,’ Vyacheslav Volodin, the Chairman of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, wrote on Telegram.
Volodin made the statement in response to an announcement on Friday by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, on a proposal to use earnings from frozen Russian state assets to support Ukraine in its rebuilding.
Volodin asserted that Moscow would respond with measures that would inflict significant costs on the EU if it were to take action against Russian assets, a considerable portion of which are in Belgium.
‘Such a decision would require a symmetrical response from the Russian Federation. In that case, far more assets belonging to unfriendly countries will be confiscated than our frozen funds in Europe,’ Volodin said.
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