Friday, June 22, 2018

What Would the Space Force be for?

President Trump’s recent directive to the Defense Department to create a new branch of the military, a United States Space Force, was not an idle musing. Trump’s proposal derives from a growing debate inside military and political circles about how to best meet the threat posed to American space assets by potential enemies: Russia and China, to be precise.

Pentagon officials are sounding the alarm that the United States is not ready for a space war. The other two great space powers have been creating the weapons to achieve an orbital Pearl Harbor, the destruction of satellites that provide the military with communications, navigation, and intelligence capabilities it will need in a war. After years of neglect, the current administration is pouring resources into a fevered attempt to play catchup before it’s too late.

The argument against a United States Space Force, at least at this time, is that creating it would be a massive reorganizational undertaking, complicating rather than enhancing America’s capability to fight a war in space in the near term. The argument for creating a space-faring branch of the military stems from the fact that the space environment is characterized by lack of air, extremes of heat and cold, microgravity, and the realities of orbital mechanics, which mean that no object remains in one place. The space environment is far different from the air, sea, and land where Americans are accustomed to fighting and hence needs a branch of the military trained and accustomed to operating in it.


2nd link.

Congress needs to way in before its creation.

A pro stance article for the proposed US Space Force.

The Pentagon is awaiting congress.

Rogers in Congress makes a statement.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

China's Liaoning Aircraft Carrier has Reached IOC

China’s first aircraft carrier group, formed around the carrier Liaoning , has reached initial operational capability (IOC), the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing announced on 31 May.

The exercises conducted by the carrier group have become more demanding and “the carrier formation’s comprehensive system of offence and defence has been effectively tested”, MND spokesperson Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang told reporters during a press conference.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Robopocalypse Report #104


Australian researchers are using drones to sample whale snot.

Brazilian farmers have started using drones to maximize crop yields.

British drone operators will need to pass a test and get a license.

British company, SenSat, set a new record for a civilian drone operation beyond line of sight.

British Universities are working on drones that can fix potholes overnight.

In China, food delivery drones have started work.

The FAA wants drones to have visible license plates.

A science panel is advising the FAA to loosen drone restrictions.

Flock, an insurance startup for drones, has just received another round of funding.

A drone was used to save a Hawaiian man's life from the volcanic eruption there.

This drone was designed to detect violence in crowds.

A drone has helped Mexican police reduce crime.

Finland successfully tested a drone traffic management system.

GE launched a subsidiary to help management large drone fleets.

Italian and Swiss researchers have built the smallest autonomous drone to date.

A drone will be used to inspect power plants in Italy.

Illinois has a bill submitted to allow law enforcement to use drones more.

Students in India have developed a rapid response, first aid drone.

An MIT algorithm will allow better data updates with the most up to date data for drones.

This is a quadcopter changes shape to slip through tight spaces.

A new quadcopter can follow cars at night.

A Seattle man crashed his drone into the Space Needle and is not suffering the consequences.

Spokane, WA will use drones to inspect infrastructure and monitor construction.

UAVs are being used to detect particulates in the Arctic.

A US Senate bill would authorize the DHS to seize and destroy drones.

Workhorse Group is delivering items via drone in Loveland, OH.

The Zephyr UAV is being worked on.

Zipline is delivering blood by drone in Africa.

Self Driving Cars:

Here's a snarky glossary to the self driving car terminology.

Self driving cars must reduce traffic fatalities by 75% if they want to stay on the road.

Self driving cars could reshape cities.

Self driving cars may not have a huge impact economically until 2040.

US Senators are looking into self driving car safety.

Here come self driving scooters.

AAA says Americans still don't trust self driving cars.

Apple signed a deal with Volkswagen  (and other German automakers) to work on self driving cars.

Byton unveiled its second self driving, eletric car prototype.

Cadillacs will be getting some self driving capabilities in 2020.

California will allow passengers to be picked up by fully autonomous cars.

Some are rather unhappy with California's regulation of self driving cars.

A company is 'finally' grading self driving cars on safety.

Daimler has unveiled its electric trucks with self driving capabilities.

GM has settled with a motorcyclist that was clipped by a Cruise self driving car.

Michigan's mcity is trying to understand how people will use self driving vehicles.

Softbank invested $2.2 billion into GM's Cruise and its self driving car tech.  Japan may get self driving cars for the Olympics as part of the Softbank investment.

Ford is running a faux test of how people will interact with self driving delivery vehicles, but the car really isn't self driving.

Land Rover is developing self driving capabilities for off road.

MIT is teaching self driving cars to change lanes like people do.

A Tesla on Autopilot crashed into a parked police car.

Consumer groups are demanding the FTC investigate the Tesla Autopilot.

Tesla's Autopilot is getting an update soon.  Supposedly, in August, Tesla will enable more self driving capabilities in Autopilot.

Uber's software had its automatic object avoidance software switched off by design when it hit and killed the woman in Arizona.  This was turned off because it kept getting false positives.  The NTSB is blaming of the turn off of that system for the crash.  The system DID detect the woman 6 seconds prior to the crash.  Uber has shut down its Arizona ops.  Uber is moving its ops back to Pittsburgh.  The mayor there had no idea Uber was coming back.

Uber is signaling it might end up using Waymo self driving tech.  Given their own abysmal record, that would probably be a good idea.

Waymo is ordering up to 62,000 Chrysler Hybrid Pacifica Minivans for conversion into self driving cars.

Waymo wants to take its self driving cars to europe to act as taxis, but potentially under another name.

The a week in the future of cars is funky.

3d Printing:

A 3d bioprinter from UCLA.

A 3d bioprinter can now print human corneas.

Flowbuilt Manufacturing can make 3d printed shoes much faster.

3d printed...chinese food?

3d printed houses are planned as rentals in the Netherlands.

Sandia National Labs is 3d printing telescopes.

A startup is offering continuous carbon fibre 3d printing.

TU Delft has a new way of 3d printing.

The University of New South Wales got a $3M grant to work on 3d metal printing.


An autonomous window cleaning bot.

Automated bike frame production is coming.

Caltech has an actuatorless soft robot.

Disney has developed a robot that can backflip.

Some are saying not to expect farm robotics any time soon.

The University of Hong Kong has developed a new, motorless actuator for robots.

Japanese researchers have grown 'muscles' for robots.

The International Maritime Organization is looking to regulate autonomous ships.

Meet Mesmer.  And we need to have a talk about that.

MIT is working on domestic robots or at least how to teach them to be domestic.

The MITO underwater bot is the latest to come out.

Nissan built a robot that can mark up sporting fields, like soccer fields, autonomously.

Robots could have senses far beyond people do.

The race to mine the ocean floor with robots has begun.

Robots are coming for the weeds.

There is even a robot pollinator.

Robots want your blood, at least to take it.

Here come the sexbots.

UCSB has developed a soft robot actuator.

Using shape memory alloys as actuators.

Softbank's Pepper robot is a cybersecurity mess.

Spyce, the automated kitchen equipped restaurant, opened for business on May 3rd.


MIT found a way to wireless power medical implants.

Software Bots:

Amazon's Alexa had a weird coincidence where it listened to, recorded and sent a conversation it heard.

A version of Alexa is being targeted for software developers.

How Canada became important in the AI development race.

China is using software bots to see if its students are paying attention.

Cortana can be used to hack PCs.

DeepMind has been watching Youtube videos to learn how to beat Atari games.

Facebook has a bot that turns whistles into musical compositions.

If you think you have fake news now...

Google's Assistant fired a gun.  Sorta.

Google's Duplex assistant able to interact with people might actually be breaking the law.

Will Google keep its promises to make only ethical AI?

Google's software bot to translate languages will now do so offline, at least for 59 of them.

IBM's Watson Health just had massive layoffs.

Intel is promising its ASIC chips for AI will arrive in 2019.

Microsoft bought an AI company to improve Cortana's conversational skills.

Microsoft also has the equivalent of Google's Duplex.  It's called Xiaoice and only available in China.

A New York bill intended to fight deepfake software bots is getting opposed by entertainment companies.

NIST ran a study that found facial recognition experts worked far better with an AI partner.

Meet Norman, the psychotic AI trained by reddit images.

Nvidia has developed a bot that can learn by watching people.

Physicists are using software bots to assemble atoms.

Samsung wants AI on all its devices by 2020.

Software bots are being used to obscure identity on online pictures.

Software bots might be useful for IDing useful nanoparticles.

Software bots are better at IDing skin cancer than dermatologists.

Software bots are being used to design replacement teeth.

Software bots are now being used to help develop solar panels.

Can software bots predict violent protests by analyzing twitter?

Software bots can now detect movement through walls.

A software bot can transfer human expressions from one video to another.

Software bots are being to detect and ID animals seen in camera traps.

A software bot created a movie starring a real actor.

A discussion of software bots.

Ubisoft has an AI helper for its games.

Virtual assistants could be finally arriving.

Zimbabwe is starting to use Chinese facial recognition software.


Welcome to Silicon Valley's version of Transhumanism.

Someone is trying to trick registrants at the NIPS 2018 conference into registering at the wrong site.

Does the US need an AI strategy like Europe et al?  Supposedly, the US is pursuing a very aggressive AI strategy.  

The Toronto Declaration is an attempt to get software bots to not discriminate and respect human rights.

The fear of automation is one of the driving forces of the recent strikes in Las Vegas.

Thousands of AI researchers are boycotting a new Nature journal.

Eric Schmidt calls shenanigans on Elon Musk's declarations about AI.

Software bots/AI are being deployed in stupid ways in companies by management that doesn't understand it.

The robopocalypse came for warehouse workers in China.

Friday, June 15, 2018

New Horizons Found Evidence of Sand Dunes Made of Methane on Pluto

Scientists say they have found evidence of dunes of frozen methane on Pluto.

The research, which is published in the journal Science, suggests that the distant world is more dynamic than previously thought.

Pluto's atmosphere was believed to be too thin to create the features familiar in deserts on Earth.

The findings come from analysis of the startling images sent back by Nasa's New Horizons mission, which flew close to Pluto in July 2015.

After an epic trek through the Solar System that took nearly a decade, New Horizons sped by at a speed of 58,536 km/h (36,373 mph), gathering data as it passed.

In their study, the researchers explain how they studied pictures of a plain known as Sputnik Planitia, parts of which are covered with what look like fields of dunes.

They are lying close to a range of mountains of water ice 5km high.

The scientists conclude that the dunes are 0.4-1km apart and that they are made up of particles of methane ice between 200-300 micrometers in diameter - roughly the size of grains of sand.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

China is Inviting International Participation in its 2022 Space Station

Last week, the United Nations announced that it was working with China’s human spaceflight program to fly experiments on that country’s space station. Countries, especially developing ones, could submit proposals to fly experiments on the future China Space Station starting some time in the 2020s. “The China Space Station belongs not only to China, but also to the world,” Chinese ambassador Shi Zhongjun said in the UN statement about the agreement.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Stealth Saga #75

Dark Sword:

Images have come out of a Chinese UCAV called the Dark Sword.  While not new, it was only previously seen as a model at a conference and a blurry photo before.  Now, far from blurry.  Some speculation as to what is going on.


The YF-23 had a unique feature to deal with boundary air around the inlets.


Had Boeing won the JSF, what would the F-32 looked like?


The lessons of the F-117's stealth tech.  Supposedly.


Indonesia may continue or pause its participation in the KF-X.  It appears pause is the word.


Turkey's TF-X program gets profiled.

Russia has expressed interest in collaborating on Turkey's TF-X fighter.

Eurofighter Replacement:

Will Germany and France actually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon with a stealth jet?


Su-57 is being called about as stealthy as the F/A-18E/F, even by those who seem to like the plane.  However, it does have some features intended to fight true 5th gen fighters.  The Business Insider seems to agree the Su-57 is NOT a stealth aircraft.  Why Russia might not be able to build a stealth aircraft.  The SU-57 is estimated to have an RCS of .1m^2.  That is stealthier than the F/A-18E/F, but enough to be called a true stealth aircraft.

Some photos of the 9th Su-57.

A new photo of the Su-57 with the new engine emerged.  The Russians have stated they are testing the new engine with regular flights.

The Russians have fired a standoff missile from the Su-57 while it was in Syria in combat.

The Russians had the Su-57 participate in Aviadarts.

Turkey is threatening to switch from the F-35 to the Su-57 if the former is banned from delivery by Congress.


Take a look at the J-20's helmet.

The J-20 has started exercising over the ocean.

The J-20 might start patrolling the Straits of Taiwan.

The J-20 may have a ground strike capability so it may be used to take out air defenses.  A recent exercise in China suggests as much.

The J-20 conducted exercises at night.

The Indians are claiming they can easily spot the J-20 fighters with their Su-30MKs.  The question is whether or not the J-20 has reflectors on like the US fighters often do.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The USAF has stated the analysis of alternatives for the NGAD program is to be completed this summer.

The USAF is requesting $492 million for its next generation air dominance aircraft for FY19.  The projected funding profile (FY20: $1.3B, FY21 $1.9B, FY22: $3.2B (comparison, GAO report on the ATF program)) looks as though there will be a repeat of the B-21 demonstrator flights.  This seems pretty close to confirmed with the line on page 4 of the request that states "In addition, technical risk reduction activities will be performed to include experimentation, integration and building demonstrative prototypes."

The US Navy in contrast has only requested $5 million in FY19 to continue its AOA.


China might be trolling Northrop over the H-20 or may have come up with their own flying wing.  Or both.  Some think China will unveil the H-20 relatively soon.

What do we 'know' about the H-20?


The USAF has selected three bases for the B-21.

Was F-22 production killed to start what became the B-21?

Some are stating the B-21 is unnecessary, but ignore the fact that when Carter cancelled the B-1, he launched the Advanced Technology Bomber program, what became the B-2.


Repairs have been completed on the F-22 that was damaged on a runway skid 6 years ago.

F-22s were deployed to South Korea.

Four F-22s were deployed to Okinawa.

Here is a take on the classified report on how much it would take to restart F-22 production.

Listen to the F-22 engine start.


The new head of acquisitions for the USAF is attempting to deal with the software glitches in the F-35.

The US DOD has started accepting F-35 deliveries after resolving the corrosion issues with Lockheed.

The US DOD is planning on buying up to 1600 GBU-49s for foreign F-35s.

Sustainment costs are foremost on the F-35 procurement team's mind now.

ALIS continues to be a problem for the F-35 program.

The F-35 has a problem that it needs to communicate with nonstealth aircraft and that will compromise its stealthiness.

While manufacturing processes are improving for the F-35, it still takes 41,000 man hours to make an F-35A (vs 108,000 in 2012).

F-35s requires $1.4 billion in fixes, but who will pay?

USAF F-35As have returned from a deployment to Japan.

USMC F-35Bs have started training with the Japanese F-35As.

You can watch USMC vertical landings.

The US Navy awarded P&W a contract mod for engine work.

Lockheed got another contract for engineering work for the F-35 and another contract.

The US Congress is complaining the F-35C lacks the necessary range to strike targets.

Australia has received the F-35A training equipment.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth will start F-35B trials shortly.

The Brits will take 4 F-35Bs in June to RAF Marnham.  However, they have been delayed by bad weather.  Then they were on their way.  And they arrivedMore pix.  Videos of the arrivals.

Israel claims to have used the F-35I in combat.

Photos of the Israeli F-35I have emerged over Lebanon.

Japan's Izumo class can support F-35Bs.  Japan is increasingly looking like the Japanese will find a way, in the legal sense, to make the Izumo class mini carriers.

Japan will have 7 F-35s by the end of May 2018.

Japan has based another F-35A at Misawa AB.

Taiwan is negotiating to get the F-35B.

Turkey will receive its first F-35A on June 21st, 2018.  The first bird has taken its first flight.

Lockheed doubts the Brits will cut their F-35B buy.

British Aerospace has received a $100 million contract from Lockheed to support the F-35 EW system.

Friday, June 08, 2018

New Horizons to end Hibernation Soon for January Encounter with KBO 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule)

The New Horizons spacecraft is about to leave hibernation to begin preparations for its January 2019 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69, nicknamed “Ultima Thule”. The flyby, set to occur in the early morning of January 1, 2019, will be the second for New Horizons, following its historic 2015 Pluto flyby. It will also be the furthest flyby from Earth ever performed by a spacecraft.