Drones Anger and Fascinate Pakistanis

Drone is now a household word in Pakistan. It outrages many Pakistanis when used by Americans to hunt militants and launch missiles in FATA. At the same time, it inspires a young generation of students to study artificial intelligence at 60 engineering colleges and universities in Pakistan. It has given rise to robotics competitions at engineering universities like National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and my alma mater NED Engineering University. Continuing reports of new civilian uses of drone technology are adding to the growing interest of Pakistanis in robotics.

Pakistani UAV Shahpar at IDS 2012 Show
Last week,  two indigenously built drones, named Burraq and Shahpar, were inducted into Pakistan Army and Air Force to deal with both internal and external threats. A press release by the military's Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) announced that Pakistan had inducted its first fleet of “indigenously developed Strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), namely Burraq and Shahpar UAV Systems” for the Army and the Air Force. While the press release provided no other information, an photograph released by ISPR showed a model of a canard pusher UAV that appeared to be armed with two under-wing missiles.

Photo Released by ISPR
Shahpar is a tactical UAV is capable of carrying 50 Kg payload and stay aloft for 8 hours. Burraq has the capacity for 100 Kg payload with 12 hours endurance, according to Defense News. Initially, both will serve as reconnaissance platforms to gather and transmit real-time operational  intelligence. In future, Burraq will likely be deployed as an armed UAV to carry and launch laser-guided missiles.

Here's an excerpt of Defense News report on Pakistani UAVs:

Burraq, based on CH-3 specs, would carry around a 100-kilogram payload and 12 hours endurance,” he (analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank) said. The given payload of the (Chinese) CH-3 is a pair of AR-1 (laser-guided) missiles, or a pair of FT-5 small diameter bombs. The ability of Pakistan to field an armed UAV has great benefits when faced with time-sensitive targets, he said. “It is important in a sense that it greatly cuts the gap from detection to shoot,” he said. Adding, “Earlier, once you detected something and wanted it taken out you had to pass on the imagery to higher ups, who had to approve and allocate resources like aircraft and by the time the aircraft got there the bad guys were long gone. Now detect, make decision, shoot and go home — all in same loop.” He does not believe there is any real significance in the systems being named for use with both the Army and the Air Force, however, as “both have been operating their own UAV squadrons for a while now.” “The Army has been using German EMT Luna X-2000 and the British [Meggitt] Banshee UAVs, while PAF as we know has a lot of faith in the Italian [Selex] Falco,” he added. The Luna was also ordered by the Pakistan Navy in June 2012.

The new drones represent a significant advance in Pakistani military's counter-insurgency capacity and battle-readiness for any major conflict in the region.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Army's Capabilities

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Pakistan's Defense Industry 

Pakistan Army at the Gates of Delhi 

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

Pakistan's Military-Industrial Complex

Can Pakistani Military Defeat the Taliban?

Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka to End Terror?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Maureen Dowd's NY Times column on drones:

If you aren’t nervous enough reading about 3-D printers spitting out handguns or Google robots with Android phones, imagine the skies thick with crisscrossing tiny drones.

“I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not,” Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” Sunday, unveiling his octocopter drones.

The Amazon founder is optimistic that the fleet of miniature robot helicopters clutching plastic containers will be ready to follow GPS coordinates within a radius of 10 miles and zip around the country providing half-hour delivery of packages of up to 5 pounds — 86 percent of Amazon’s stock — just as soon as the F.A.A. approves.

“Wow!” Rose said, absorbing the wackiness of it all.

The futuristic Pony Express to deliver pony-print coats and other Amazon goodies will be “fun,” Bezos said, and won’t start until they have “all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.’ ”

So if they can’t land on my head, why do they make my head hurt? Maybe because they are redolent of President Obama’s unhealthy attachment to lethal drones, which are killing too many innocents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our spy agencies’ unhealthy attachment to indiscriminate surveillance.

Or maybe they recall that eerie “Twilight Zone” episode where a Brobdingnagian Agnes Moorehead fends off tiny spaceships with a big wooden stirrer — even though these flying machines would be dropping off the housewares.

Or maybe it’s because after “60 Minutes,” “Homeland” featured a story line about a drone both faulty and morally agnostic. The White House chief of staff, wanting to cover up a bolloxed-up covert operation on the Iraq-Iran border, suggested directing the drone to finish off its own agent, Brody.

“I will not order a strike on our own men,” the acting C.I.A. chief, played by Mandy Patinkin, replied sternly. “Hang it up.”
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Journalists, police and paparazzi jumped on the drone trend. One photographer dispatched a drone over Tina Turner’s Lake Zurich estate to snap shots of her wedding last summer — before police ordered it grounded.

According to USA Today on Tuesday, all sorts of American businesses are eluding drone restrictions: real estate representatives are getting video of luxury properties; photographers are collecting footage of Hawaiian surfers; Western farmers are monitoring their land; Sonoma vintners are checking on how their grapes are faring. As Rem Rieder wryly noted in that paper, Bezos may eventually let his drones help with home delivery of The Washington Post, “but it’s bad news for kids on bikes.”

Law enforcement agencies are eager to get drones patrolling the beat. And The Wrap reported that in the upcoming Sony remake of “RoboCop,” Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a spokesman for a multinational conglomerate that has to manufacture a special RoboCop with a conscience for America (still traumatized by “The Terminator,” no doubt) scolds Americans for being “robophobic.”

Of course, for the robophopic, there is already a way to get goods almost immediately: Go to the store.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/04/opinion/dowd-mommy-the-drones-here.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's The Hindu newspaper piece on Pakistan Army doctrine:

“Army’s mother document” says growing Indian military power “disturbs strategic equilibrium of the region”

Pakistan’s official Army Doctrine calls on the country to “invoke disproportionate responses” in future wars with India, a copy of the document obtained by TheHindu has revealed. “The causes of conflict with the potential to escalate to the use of violence,” the classified internal document states, “emanate from the unresolved issue of Kashmir, the violation of treaty arrangements on sharing of natural resources, and the organised and deliberate support by external powers to militant organisations.”

The December, 2011, Doctrine does not name any country as a threat, but Pakistan has accused India of seeking to block its access to Indus waters, and backing terrorism. The Doctrine describes itself as the “army’s mother document” and “the fountainhead for all subordinate doctrines.”

Indian military sources told TheHindu the study was commissioned in the summer of 2008, soon after former chief of army staff General Pervez Kayani took office. It evolved through intensive discussions of the Kargil war of 1999 and the near-war that followed the December, 2001, terrorist attack on Parliament House

Georgetown University scholar Dr. C. Christine, author of a forthcoming book, Fighting to the End, says the Doctrine confirms what scholars have long known. “It tells us several interesting things,” she says, “among them that the Pakistan army sees Indian military modernisation as a threat, but that they also think nuclear weapons will insulate them from the consequences of pursuing high-risk strategies, like backing jihadist clients.”

Future wars, the Doctrine states, “will be characterised by high-intensity, high-tempo operations under a relatively transparent battle-space environment.” This, it states, is because of the “incremental increase in asymmetry of conventional forces and [the] nuclear overhang” — evident references to the programme of rapid modernisation India put into place after the 2001-2002 crisis, and both countries’ efforts to expand their nuclear weapons capabilities.

In the view of the Doctrine’s authors, de-facto parity between the two countries induced “through a combination of conventional and nuclear deterrence, has obviated the [likelihood of] conventional war.”

However, the Doctrine argues, “a disparity at the conventional plane continues to grow disproportionately, which too disturbs the strategic equilibrium of the region.” This, it states, “depletes peaceful diplomacy and dialogue, replacing it with coercion on the upper planes and violence across the lower-ends of the spectrum.”

“What worries Pakistan’s army,” says the former Indian Army vice-chief, Arvinder Lamba, “is their inability to organise offensive or defensive responses to our growing rapid mobilisation capacity. Their challenge is to deter us from striking by threatening nuclear weapons use in the face of the least provocation.

“India’s government and military must seek perceptual clarity on exactly what we intend to do in the face of such threats,” he said.

The Doctrine states that Pakistan will use nuclear weapons “only as a last resort, given its scale and scope of destruction.” Nuclear parity between India and Pakistan, it argues, “does not accrue any substantial military advantage to either side, other than maintaining the status quo.”

“In a nuclear deterrent environment,” it adds, “war is unlikely to create decisive military or political advantage.” However, it argues that “integration and synergy between conventional and nuclear forces, maintaining both at an appropriate level… [will avoid] an open-ended arms race.”


http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pakistan-army-warns-of-disproportionate-response-in-future-wars/article5422491.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Defense News report on launch of latest version of JF-17 fighter jet:

KAMRA, PAKISTAN — Pakistan on Wednesday launched production of a new version of a combat aircraft featuring upgraded avionics and weapons system.

The plane, to be called Block-II JF-17, will be manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex west of Islamabad, which has so far produced 50 older-model Block-I JF-17s for the air force.

The complex on Wednesday formally handed over the 50th indigeneously produced Block-I JF-17 Thunder aircraft to the air force at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The JF-17 Thunder has been co-developed and co-produced with the China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation.

“The indigenous manufacturing of JF-17s will not only lead to self-reliance and industrialization but will also further strengthen Pakistan’s friendship with China,” Sharif told the ceremony.

“The first Block-II JF-17 will be ready by June next year,” chief project director Air Vice Marshal Javaid Ahmad told AFP.

The Block-II will have improved versions of avionics sub-systems, air-to-air refueling capability, additional weapons carriage capability and some extra operational capabilities.

Ahmad said several countries in Central Asia, South America and Africa had shown interest in buying the new plane.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which overhauls and rebuilds the air force’s whole range of combat aircraft, has the capacity to roll out 16-25 aircraft per year.


http://www.defensenews.com/article/20131218/DEFREG03/312180023/Pakistan-Launches-Production-New-Fighter-Jet
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Atlantic mag piece on more lethal US robotic military:

In the future, an Army brigade might have 3,000 human troops instead of 4,000, but a lot more robots, according to recent remarks by General Robert Cone, the Army's head of Training and Doctrine Command.

"I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force," Defense News reported he said in a speech at the Army Aviation Symposium.

Continuing, he noted that the Army had devoted more resources to "force protection," keeping the troops safe, at the cost of some firepower. "I think we’ve also lost a lot in lethality," Cone said.

Robots could reduce the force protection burden, giving the Army more killing power per brigade.

Those robots could be a pack bot like the Legged Squad Support System perhaps, or a conventional-looking semi or fully autonomous vehicle like Lockheed Martin's Squad Mission Support System.

The lesson? If Google is doing it, DARPA is also doing it, but with more lethality.


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/the-future-of-the-army-fewer-soldiers-more-robots-more-lethality/283230/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Dawn story on Pak Army training on IEDs used by the Taliban:

..They've been strapped to children's bicycles, hidden inside water jugs and even hung in tree branches.

But the most shocking place that Brig Basim Saeed has heard of such a device being planted was inside a hollowed-out book made to look like a copy of the holy Quran.

A soldier who went to pick up the book from the floor was killed when it exploded.
------------
Saeed and other instructors at the military's Counter IED, Explosives and Munitions School say it is important to constantly come up with new ways to prevent such homemade bombs because that's exactly what the militants are doing.

''Terrorists are also very brainy,'' Saeed said. ''They are using different techniques to defeat our efforts also. So we need to be very proactive.''

The Pakistani military has sharply ramped up efforts to deal with such devices in recent years as they have emerged as the militants' preferred weapon.

So far, 4,042 soldiers from the army and Frontier Corps have been killed and more than 13,000 wounded in the war on militants in the country's northwest since 2002, according to the Pakistani military.

The homemade bombs account for most of the casualties.

---

The Pakistani military also has moved to restrict the availability of calcium ammonium nitrate-based fertilisers frequently used in Afghanistan, and to develop a fertiliser dubbed CAN+ that would work on Pakistan's soil but not detonate.

And it signed an agreement with the US last year designed to help the two countries work together to fight the roadside bombs by sharing information in areas such as militant tactics and funding.

US experts are to travel to Pakistan to supply it with hard-won knowledge earned in Iraq and Afghanistan. Separately, the British military has provided instruction.

The school's goal is to teach security forces where bombs can be hidden, how to look for them and their components and how to gather intelligence from them such as fingerprints so that authorities can track down militants.

''The success lies in identifying the network and busting them,'' said Lt Col Mohammed Anees Khan, an instructor. ''We need to go after those people who are making and planting those IEDs.''

The Associated Press was the first foreign media outlet to be allowed access to the facility, according to the Pakistani military.

During a recent visit, students were practicing using equipment to search for devices planted in the ground or using remote-controlled vehicles to approach possible explosive devices.

Others cleared a path to a suspected militant house and marked the path with yellow flags so that troops coming behind them would know where to walk.

The school is designed to mimic scenarios the security forces might find in real life in classes that last from three to eight weeks.

It includes a mock urban environment with a market, a gas station and other buildings, and explosive devices are even hidden in a pond and a graveyard.

Troops practicing a search of a residential compound may accidentally open a cupboard, setting off a loud buzzing that signals an explosion.

An escape tunnel leading from one of the houses is rigged with trip wires.

''We face it whenever we travel or if there is a compound, a path or some other place, it is always in our mind that there could be some IED,'' said one soldier at the school, Noor ul Ameen, who has served in the northwest and the insurgency-plagued Balochistan province...


http://www.dawn.com/news/1083996/inside-pakistan-armys-bomb-school
Riaz Haq said…
China Has Unveiled a New Laser System to Shoot Down Drones

A few years ago, Air Force brass noted that some "drones are useless in contested airspace," said Kreps, meaning they're no match for enemy fighter planes. But the technology has advanced quickly and more governments — including China, India, Turkey and Pakistan — are developing drone and anti-drone programs.

"The technology has become lighter and smaller, creating a different set of vulnerabilities for typical air defense systems — hence the need for this kind of system that can counter smaller-scale drones that could actually be more insidious," she said.

Since 2008, the United States has conducted more than 1,700 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and elsewhere, as Kreps explained in a recent Foreign Affairs article. The US has killed more than 450 people with drones, according to Kreps.

The United Kingdom has deployed drones in Afghanistan. Israel has flown drones in Palestine. Israel also shot down a drone operated by the Palestinian militant group Hamas during the Gaza Strip conflict earlier this year.

The proliferation of drones has led Kreps to question if they make warfare too easy because they don't expose pilots to danger. She and others have argued that President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, have routinely authorized drone attacks in airspace where they would be reluctant to send manned warplanes.

Now, China is facing similar questions as it beefs up its drone arsenal.

China and Japan have rattled sabers over Chinese drones that were flying over islands claimed by bother countries in the East China Sea. Upping the stakes, Japan last year publicly adopted a policy to shoot down drones if they ignored warnings to leave Japanese air space. That's a looser standard than for manned aircraft, which become targets only if they pose a threat to Japanese nationals. China, meanwhile, has said it would consider an attack on a drone as an act of war.

The anti-drone laser defense system is an example of China flexing its muscles at a time of rising tensions in the Pacific region, Kreps said. But it would be a shame if it emboldened Chinese leaders to go to war and jeopardize millions of lives just because Japan blew up a high-tech remote-controlled aircraft.

https://news.vice.com/article/china-has-unveiled-a-new-laser-system-to-shoot-down-drones
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan successfully tests its first UCAV armed drone. Burraq fires, hits target with laser-guided missile Barq http://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/13-Mar-2015/pakistan-s-first-armed-drone-hits-a-bull-s-eye …


Pakistan’s first homegrown armed drone Friday successfully test-fired a laser-guided missile with a pinpoint precision, Samaa reported.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, the indigenously developed advanced Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) ‘Burraq’ armed with a new air-to-surface missile ‘Barq’, which means lightning, were tested at an undisclosed location Friday.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and other senior commanders were present onthe test site, said a tweet posted by DG ISPR Asim Bajwa.

After witnessing a successful test-fire, the COAS patted on the back of all the engineers/scientists who worked day in day out to stand Pakistan on the map of the developers of hi-tech UCAVs.

Bajwa quoted the army chief as terming it a great national achievement, which would help the armed forces rev up their anti-terror crackdown.

The drone, Burraq, which translates as "flying horse from the heavens" was jointly worked up by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), a civilian defence research and development organisation.

It is pertinent to note that United States has run a controversial drone programme against militant hideouts in northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan since 2004.

Pakistan publicly opposes the missile strikes by US drones, terming them a violation of its territorial sovereignty and has long asked the US to give them the technology required to run their own programme.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out the Islamist militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area, which has long been a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and the homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.

http://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/13-Mar-2015/pakistan-s-first-armed-drone-hits-a-bull-s-eye
Riaz Haq said…
The Guardian: Pakistan military's new combat drone is 'great national achievement'

In a significant breakthrough, the country’s army announced on Friday it had successfully test-fired a missile from an indigenously developed drone – a technical feat few nations have managed.

Army chief Raheel Sharif was among the engineers and scientists who witnessed the demonstration of a technology that has largely been the reserve of a few countries, such as the US and Israel.

The army said the drone, named Burraq after the flying horse of Islamic tradition, successfully hit stationary and moving targets with its Barq laser-guided missile with “impressive pinpoint accuracy”.

The system would be a “force multiplier in our anti-terror campaign”, said an army spokesman, Asim Bajwa.

Developing homemade drones has been a priority for Pakistan given the extensive use made of them since 2004 by the CIA to target terrorist groups in the restive north-west tribal belt.

The controversial weapons have proved irresistible given their ability to linger over their targets for extended periods of time, collect intelligence and deliver deadly missiles far more cheaply than conventional aircraft.

But the US supplies only its most trustworthy allies with the capability and has refused repeated requests from Pakistan, which has been attempting to join the club of countries with armed drones for at least two years.

Although it already has surveillance drones, arming them requires numerous technical problems to be overcome.

During the ongoing “Operation Zarb-e-Azb” operation against militants in North Waziristan, a major sanctuary for militant groups bordering Afghanistan, the country has made extensive use of bombs dropped from fighter planes.

The army has repeatedly claimed no civilians were killed in the extensive air campaign, but the claim has been impossible to verify.

US drone attacks have been decried by many Pakistanis and activists around the world who claim innocent lives have been lost and entire civilian populations traumatised by the continued presence of drones.

Islamabad makes diplomatic protests against US drone strikes as a matter of routine, although there is considerable evidence Pakistan has given its consent to the strikes.

Although the military recognise the US drone campaign have been effective many believe they are an unacceptable infringement on the country’s sovereignty.

According to the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CIA has carried out 413 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/13/pakistan-military-new-combat-drone-great-national-achievement
Riaz Haq said…
The global proliferation of armed aerial drones took a major leap forward Friday when Pakistan’s military said it has successfully tested its own version and will soon deploy them against terrorists.

The drone, designated the Burraq, will be equipped with a laser-guided missile capable of striking with pinpoint accuracy in all types of weather, the military said. In the Koran, Burraq is the name of the white horse that took the Islamic prophet to heaven.

Gen. Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, witnessed the test and commended the country’s engineers and scientists for “untiring efforts to acquire state-of­-the-art technology” that puts “Pakistan in a different league.”

“It’s a great national achievement and momentous occasion,” Sharif said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is not related to the army chief, said the weapons would “add a new dimension to Pakistan’s defenses.”

Pakistan’s decision will likely accelerate the already supercharged race among nations to follow in the footsteps of the United States by deploying unmanned aircraft as an instrument of war.

According to the New America Foundation, there is evidence that eight other countries — the United States, South Africa, France, Nigeria, Britain, Iran, Israel and China — have already put weapons onto unmanned aircraft. The United States, Britain and Israel are the only three that have fired a missile from a drone during a military operation, the foundation said.

Dozens of other countries, including Pakistan’s archrival, India, are in the process of developing them, according to the foundation. And last month, the Obama administration said it would permit the export of armed drones to U.S. allies who request them on a “case­-by­-case basis.”

Peter W. Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said Pakistan’s test confirms that the use of drones in warfare is here to stay.

“This is not the start of the race; it’s mile seven of the race,” said Singer, adding that India will probably also be able to quickly deploy an armed drone.

Still, he cautioned, the introduction of drones into Pakistan’s arsenal is not likely to alter the balance of power between the two nuclear-armed countries.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pakistan-says-it-will-deploy-its-own-armed-drone-against-terrorists/2015/03/13/ac0a9008-c98d-11e4-bea5-b893e7ac3fb3_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
Attention White-Collar Workers: The Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

"There's already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item," Ford tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

In his new book, Rise of the Robots, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated workers can no longer find employment.

"As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate," Ford says. "So I think there's every reason to believe it's going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now."

Interview Highlights

On robots in manufacturing

Any jobs that are truly repetitive or rote — doing the same thing again and again — in advanced economies like the United States or Germany, those jobs are long gone. They've already been replaced by robots years and years ago.

So what we've seen in manufacturing is that the jobs that are actually left for people to do tend to be the ones that require more flexibility or require visual perception and dexterity. Very often these jobs kind of fill in the gaps between machines. For example, feeding parts into the next part of the production process or very often they're at the end of the process — perhaps loading and unloading trucks and moving raw materials and finished products around, those types of things.

But what we're seeing now in robotics is that finally the machines are coming for those jobs as well, and this is being driven by advances in areas like visual perception. You now have got robots that can see in three-dimension and that's getting much better and also becoming much less expensive. So you're beginning to see machines that are starting to have the kind of perception and dexterity that begins to approach what human beings can do. A lot more jobs are becoming susceptible to this and that's something that's going to continue to accelerate, and more and more of those jobs are going to disappear and factories are just going to relentlessly approach full-automation where there really aren't going to be many people at all.

On the new generation of robot jobs

There's a company here in Silicon Valley called Industrial Perception which is focused specifically on loading and unloading boxes and moving boxes around. This is a job that up until recently would've been beyond the robots because it relies on visual perception often in varied environments where the lighting may not be perfect and so forth, and where the boxes may be stacked haphazardly instead of precisely and it has been very, very difficult for a robot to take that on. But they've actually built a robot that's very sophisticated and may eventually be able to move boxes about one per second and that would compare with about one per every six seconds for a particularly efficient person. So it's dramatically faster and, of course, a robot that moves boxes is never going to get tired. It's never going to get injured. It's never going to file a workers' compensation claim.

On a robot that's being built for use in the fast food industry

Essentially, it's a machine that produces very, very high quality hamburgers. It can produce about 350 to 400 per hour; t...

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/05/18/407648886/attention-white-collar-workers-the-robots-are-coming-for-your-jobs
Riaz Haq said…
Rise of the machines: #Pakistani roboteers hunt global soccer glory at #RoboCup2016 in #Germany. #AI #Pakistan #NUST

http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/06/154930/rise-machines-pakistani-roboteers-hunt-global-soccer-glory

The little striker wearing a crescent moon and star jersey lines up his penalty and kicks right, netting his goal as the keeper dives the wrong way and hits the ground yelping in pain. Both players are teammates practising to represent Pakistan in a major world football tournament. Unlike their low-ranked flesh-and-blood counterparts, however, these are advanced robots whose programmers are set to compete against students from the world’s top universities as they look to showcase what their country can do in the world of Artificial Intelligence. Students at Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) will this year for the first time send a team to the annual RoboCup, an event featuring 32 universities that will be held in Leipzig, Germany from June 27 to July 4.

The six machines are NAO humanoid robots purchased from France’s Aldebaran Robotics at a cost of roughly US$17,000. It is in fact the third year that NUST, Pakistan’s premier engineering institute, has qualified for the prestigious cup. But a lack of travel funds has meant their dream of representing their country on the world stage had to be placed on hold – until now. “Our dream came true this year when the university managed to allocate 1.5 million rupees (US$14,336) for the team’s travel to Germany,” Dr Yasar Ayaz, head of the department of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence told AFP. The amount is enough only for three students instead of all 10 involved in the project to travel to Germany and participate in the event, and the university is still hoping to close the gap with funding from sponsors. “We are not disheartened...something is better than nothing,” Ayaz said. The first robot football league was started in 1993 by a group of Japanese researchers and named the Robot J-League, after the Japanese professional league. Following a surge of outside interest, the initiative was extended into a international project and the Robot World Cup Initiative, or “RoboCup“, was conceived. The first edition was held in Osaka in 1996. Its stated aims: “By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.” For the time being, however, that goal appears a long way off. Students tap away at their laptops in their university lab, programming their code. Zain Murtaza, who leads the ten-member team, sets up the cute robots on their nine-by-six feet pitch, and the action begins. Each robot has two cameras on their faces guiding their movements. “The cameras take pictures and feed them to the computers installed inside, which help them decide about their movements and recognise movements of the other players,” Ayaz explains. They walk around the field with short staccato movements, pulling their legs back like a golfer lifts his club before unleashing an ungainly kick that sends the plastic orange ball rolling along the floor. Mishaps and tumbles are frequent, and the process makes for awkward viewing.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/06/154930/rise-machines-pakistani-roboteers-hunt-global-soccer-glory

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