Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Armed Drones Outrage and Inspire 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?

40 comments:

Moid said...

How come its indigenous when it's a copycat of Chinese drones?

Riaz Haq said...

Moid: " How come its indigenous when it's a copycat of Chinese drones?"

Techies should know that following a spec is not copy cat.

Uzair said...

is it propeller driven or jet engine driven?

Riaz Haq said...

Uzair:"is it propeller driven or jet engine driven?"

None of the drones use jet engines...most, including US predator, sound like a lawn-mower flying overhead.

Anonymous said...

Good for them, but yet shooting down American drones are a far reach to PAF and Pak Army.......

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Good for them, but yet shooting down American drones are a far reach to PAF and Pak Army......."

Pakistani military can shoot down US drones. It's easy. But there are consequences of such an action which aid-dependent Pakistan seeking IMF bail-out can not deal with.

Riaz Haq said...

(CIA Informant) Hassan: We are at war, and I am part of this war. When does a war make sense? To be honest, I think the US drone missions are the right thing to do. Believe me, no weapon is more effective in fighting extremists. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban for many years, was killed on Nov. 1. Many other more or less high-ranking extremists were killed before that. From a military standpoint, it's a success for the United States. And I contribute to that success.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/interview-pakistani-cia-informant-on-drone-warfare-and-taliban-a-937045.html

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.”
-----------
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

Anonymous said...

None of the drones use jet engines...most, including US predator, sound like a lawn-mower flying overhead.

Predator C
Neuron
Taranis
Skat
Aura

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:None of the drones use jet engines...most, including US predator, sound like a lawn-mower flying overhead. Predator C Neuron Taranis Skat Aura"

Predator C uses turbofan, not jet engine. Neuron is still experimental, not deployed. Others are also experimental.

Anonymous said...

Predator C uses turbofan, not jet engine. Neuron is still experimental, not deployed. Others are also experimental.

A turbofan IS a type of a jet engine!
Infact the most common type!!
All airliners use turbofan jet engines!

As do the vast majority of military jets!F-16,F-15 etc etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbofan

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

HopeWins Junior said...

QUOTE: "Army’s mother document says growing Indian military power “disturbs strategic equilibrium of the region”..."
-----

Before we discuss the "disturbance" part, please explain to me how this "equilibrium" can exist in the first place:

A) Pakistan has 190 million people with a 550 billion$ economy

B) India has 1,240 million people with 4,800 billion$ economy.

Do you see any "equilibrium"? Is that even possible?

Is there a power equilibrium between US and Mexico? Should the US limit its military spending so as not to "disturb the strategic balance" in North America?

Yes? What are your views?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Is there a power equilibrium between US and Mexico? Should the US limit its military spending so as not to "disturb the strategic balance" in North America?"

Mexico is not a nuclear power. Pakistan is.

Nor is India a "superpower". US is.

In fact India is superpoor, not a superpower.

Nukes are a great strategic power equalizer between India and Pakistan.

Kadeer said...

@Riaz
Nukes are a great strategic power equalizer between India and Pakistan.


So why do we need to spend billions on the military? Can we not use those billions on developing our economy? I am not a military person but whenever I say that many military people take offense. I think the military plays the India card so they can justify the billions.

HopeWins Junior said...

Nov 22, 2013: http://alturl.com/hhpiy

QUOTE: "....Initially, the 1.1 kg pico-satellite will transmit a continuous wave Morse code signal with the message “ICUBE-1 First CubeSat of Pakistan”...."

But, but, but... why can't we launch a measly 1 Kg song-playing satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ourselves? Didn't you say that we have a 'vast military industrial complex' that produces sophisticated IRBMs? So why are we asking the Russians to launch a lousy 1kg satellite into LEO?

Do you know?

Riaz Haq said...

Kadeer: "So why do we need to spend billions on the military? "

Dispensing with minimum conventional deterrence would require nukes on hair-trigger alert making accidental nuclear war between geographically continuous rivals more likely.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "So why are we asking the Russians to launch a lousy 1kg satellite into LEO?"

The students at IST who built it are not in delivery business. They have many commercial delivery services to choose from around the world.

Anonymous said...

Funny

https://twitter.com/aliamjadrizvi/status/409732038078373889/photo/1

Riaz Haq said...

From Dawn newspaper:

Even if limited in scope, a conflict with nuclear weapons would wreak havoc in the atmosphere and devastate crop yields, with the effects multiplied as global food markets went into turmoil, the report said.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility released an initial peer-reviewed study in April 2012 that predicted a nuclear famine could kill more than a billion people.

In a second edition, the groups said they widely underestimated the impact in China and calculated that the world's most populous country would face severe food insecurity.

“A billion people dead in the developing world is obviously a catastrophe unparalleled in human history. But then if you add to that the possibility of another 1.3 billion people in China being at risk, we are entering something that is clearly the end of civilization,” said Ira Helfand, the report's author. http://www.dawn.com/news/1061711

Riaz Haq said...

From FP:

The drone that spied on bin Laden and on Iran's nukes was just the start. Meet its bigger, higher-flying, stealthier cousin, the Northrop Grumman RQ-180. It's probably been flying for a few years now, but you weren't supposed to know that; the existence of this secret project, based out of Area 51, was revealed Friday by Aviation Week.
The existence of the RQ-180 has been long rumored. Cryptic public statements by U.S. Air Force officials indicated a secret high-altitude reconnaissance drone, and Northrop officials frequently reference the broad strokes of the program. For that matter, it is likely not the only classified unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. Other companies, including Lockheed and Boeing, also have a stable of smaller secretaircraft.
The RQ-180 is likely flying from the secret Air Force test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, widely known as Area 51. Its exact specifications, including such crucial details as the number of engines, is unknown, but Aviation Week suggests a wingspan of over 130 feet, based on hangar construction at Northrop's Palmdale, California facility. The number of aircraft built is also unknown; however, a flight test program, relatively quick entry into service and open budget documents suggest a small fleet are flying routinely.
One such aircraft is Lockheed's RQ-170, first shown to the world in grainy pictures from Kandahar air base, Afghanistan, but only officially acknowledged after one crashed almost-intact in Iran. The RQ-170 was (and maybe still is) tasked by the CIA to spy on Iran's contentious nuclear program. The drone was reportedly used to spy on Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan before and during the raid that killed him. RQ-170 has also been reported in South Korea, possibly to look at North Korea's nuclear program. RQ-170 was impressive, but limited: it showed only some stealth characteristics, and was widely believed to be slightly outdated by the time it was discovered. The larger and stealthier RQ-180 would be able to fly higher, longer, allowing the CIA to watch the same targets for days at a time, and -- just maybe -- spy on more sophisticated countries.


http://complex.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/12/06/unmasked_area_51s_biggest_stealthiest_spy_drone_yet

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...

3D printing technology was introduced in Pakistan when Robotics Lab was launched in 2011 in Karachi. It was founded by two friends Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf who had previously worked in Silicon Valley. They bought a 3D printer for the lab as a tool to help children learn science.

In addition to serving children, the Robotics Lab has attracted commercial clients such as Pak Suzuki Motors, architecture firms and college students doing senior projects, according to the Express Tribune newspaper. The founding duo is now looking for ways to expand its audience.“Our goal is to push this science lab to TCF schools, a nationwide school network covering about 150,000 underprivileged students,” says Ahmed. The project, however, is currently pending because of funding constraints. “We have asked them to find some big donor for this purpose. Currently, we train these children only through field trips to our labs.”

http://www.riazhaq.com/2014/07/pakistan-joins-3d-printing-revolution.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan TV channel using drone-mounted cameras to cover #AzadiMarchPTI , #InquilabMarch #islamabad http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1u2ypy_aerial-view-of-imran-khan-jalsa-shot-with-a-quad-copter_news …

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

Mayraj said...

They’re (jobs) being obliterated by technology.

Check out your groceries or drugstore purchases using a kiosk? A worker behind a cash register used to do that.

Buy clothes without visiting a store? You’ve taken work from a salesman.

Book your vacation using an online program? You’ve helped lay off a travel agent — perhaps one at American Express Co., which announced this month that it plans to cut 5,400 jobs, mainly in its travel business, as more of its customers shift to online portals to plan trips.

Software is picking out worrisome blots in medical scans, running trains without conductors, analyzing Twitter traffic to tell where to sell certain snacks, sifting through documents for evidence in court cases, recording power usage beamed from digital utility meters at millions of homes, and sorting returned library books.

Year after year, the software that runs computers and an array of other devices becomes more capable of doing tasks that humans have always done. For decades, science fiction warned of a future when we would be architects of our own obsolescence, replaced by our machines; an Associated Press analysis finds that the future has arrived.

‘’I have never seen a period where computers demonstrated as many skills and abilities as they have over the past seven years,” says Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of “Race Against the Machine.”

The global economy is being reshaped by machines that generate and analyze vast amounts of data; by devices such as smartphones and tablet computers that let people work just about anywhere, even when they’re on the move; by smarter, nimbler robots; and by services that let businesses rent computing power when they need it, instead of installing expensive equipment and hiring IT staffs to run it. Whole employment categories, from secretaries to travel agents, are disappearing.

“There’s no sector of the economy that’s going to get a pass,” says Martin Ford, who runs a software company and wrote “The Lights in the Tunnel,” a book predicting widespread job losses. “It’s everywhere.”

The numbers startle even labor economists. In the United States, half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the Great Recession paid middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000. But only 2 percent of the 3.5 million jobs gained since the recession ended in June 2009 are midpay. Nearly 70 percent are low-paying jobs; 29 percent pay well.

In the 17 European countries that use the euro as their currency, the numbers are even worse. Almost 4.3 million low-pay jobs have been gained since mid-2009, but the loss of midpay jobs has never stopped. A total of 7.6 million disappeared from January 2008 through last June.

Some occupations are beneficiaries of the march of technology, such as software engineers and app designers. But, overall, technology is eliminating far more jobs than it is creating.

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, The Associated Press analyzed employment data from 20 countries; and interviewed economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, CEOs, and workers who are competing with smarter machines.

The AP’s key findings:

■ Over the past 50 years, technology has drastically reduced the number of jobs in manufacturing. Robots and other machines controlled by computer programs work faster and make fewer mistakes than humans. Now, that same efficiency is being unleashed in the service economy.

■ Technology is being adopted by every kind of organization that employs people — in large corporations and small businesses, established companies and startups, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and the military.


http://jacksonville.com/news/national/2013-01-28/story/ap-investigation-technology-killing-millions-middle-class-jobs

Riaz Haq said...

Unfortunately, cross-country analysis of the connections between manufacturing employment and levels of development has been restricted to OECD countries. This matters because many developing country governments have large programs to stimulate manufacturing activity, on the understanding that jobs and higher incomes will follow.


Ambitious job targets are announced - such as 100 million new manufacturing jobs by 2022 in India. These are typically justified with reference to the experiences of earlier industrializers, like Korea and Taiwan. Public budgets, land and labor regulations, and even education policy are being modified to pursue these manufacturing jobs. We can see why developing countries want these manufacturing jobs: our data show that a country’s peak manufacturing employment share between 1970 and 2010 rather than is its peak manufacturing output share, is a much better predictor of its average per capita GDP in 2005-2010. Controlling for peak manufacturing employment shares and the date that manufacturing activity peaked, peak output shares are insignificant predictors of subsequent prosperity. This suggests that manufacturing output matters for prosperity only insofar as it comes with jobs. Moreover, we show that every country that is rich today, by any reasonable standard, had more than an 18-20% manufacturing employment share sometime since 1970.


It is important to note that industrial activity typically grows with income in poorer countries, peaks, and then falls with income and wages in richer (deindustrializing) countries. There are two reasons we think that manufacturing employment-led development is becoming more challenging.

Labor productivity has risen faster in manufacturing than in the wider economy. Higher levels of manufacturing output are now compatible with lower levels of manufacturing employment.

Manufacturing activity is now more apt to leave for other countries as labor costs rise. Therefore deindustrialization kicks in at lower income levels. Moreover, this premature deindustrialization is more apparent in employment than in output data. Output can be sustained in the face of rising labor costs by replacing workers with machinery. (Arvind Subramaniam and Amrit Amirapu show similar trends in industrial (manufacturing plus mining, utilities and construction) employment using repeated cross-sections of countries.)
Countries still industrialize and then deindustrialize as they become richer. However, industrial employment shares for today’s late industrializers such as China, India and Bangladesh are all below 16%, and on today’s trends seem unlikely to rise much further. Moreover, the per capita income levels at which deindustrialization kicks in have fallen from $34,000 in 1970 to around $9,000 in 2010.

These results urge a balanced approach to industrialization. They confirm that industrialization matters – when it brings jobs; but they also confirm that this is less and less likely to happen. Governments must not neglect manufacturing. Nor can they rely as heavily on it as they once did.


http://blogs.worldbank.org/jobs/manufacturing-conundrum

Riaz Haq said...

From The Economist Mag: A robotic sewing machine could throw garment workers in low-cost countries out of a job


HUMAN hands are extremely good at making clothes. While many manufacturing processes have been automated, stitching together garments remains a job for millions of people around the world. As with most labour-intensive tasks, much of the work has migrated to low-wage countries, especially in Asia. Factory conditions can be gruelling. As nations develop and wages rise, the trade moves on to the next cheapest location: from China, to Bangladesh and, now that it is opening up, Myanmar. Could that migration be about to end with the development of a robotic sewing machine?

There have been many attempts to automate sewing. Some processes can now be carried out autonomously: the cutting of fabric, for instance, and sometimes sewing buttons or pockets. But it is devilishly difficult to make a machine in which fabric goes in one end and finished garments, such as jeans and T-shirts, come out the other. The particularly tricky bit is stitching two pieces of material together. This involves aligning the material correctly to the sewing head, feeding it through and constantly adjusting the fabric to prevent it slipping and buckling, while all the time keeping the stitches neat and the thread at the right tension. Nimble fingers invariably prove better at this than cogs, wheels and servo motors.

“The distortion of the fabric is no longer an issue. That’s what prevented automatic sewing in the past,” says Steve Dickerson, the founder of SoftWear Automation, a textile-equipment manufacturer based in Atlanta, where Dr Dickerson was a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The company is developing machines which tackle the problems of automated sewing in a number of ways. They use cameras linked to a computer to track the stitching. Researchers have tried using machine vision before, for instance by having cameras detect the edge of a piece of fabric to work out where to stitch.

The Atlanta team, however, have greatly increased accuracy by using high-speed photography to capture up to 1,000 frames per second. These images are then manipulated by software to produce a higher level of contrast. This more vivid image allows the computer to pick out individual threads in the fabric. Instead of measuring the fabric the robotic sewing machine counts the number of threads to determine the stitching position. As a consequence, any distortion to the fabric made by each punch of the needle can be measured extremely accurately. These measurements also allow the “feed dog”, which gently pulls fabric through the machine, to make constant tiny adjustments to keep things smooth and even.


------

Shoemakers are already using 3D printers, which build up material additively, to make prototypes of shoes. Exotic clothing and shoes made with 3D printers are becoming regulars on the catwalks at many of the world’s leading fashion shows, although the materials they are printed from tend to be various sorts of plastic, which can make the garments somewhat clunky and shoes a bit clog-like. However, researchers are working on ways to print more flexible materials. One such project involves a collaboration between Disney, Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University. Their 3D printer uses layers of off-the-shelf fabric to make soft objects, such as cuddly toys.


http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21651925-robotic-sewing-machine-could-throw-garment-workers-low-cost-countries-out?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/madetomeasure

Riaz Haq said...

#Balochistan govt to deploy surveillance drones. #Pakistan #terrorism http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/?p=427389 via @ePakistanToday


Balochistan government decided on aerial surveillance of criminals in an attempt to regain stability in the province which has been wracked by ethnic, sectarian and militant violence.

Balochistan govt wrote a letter to the federal government seeking permission to deploy surveillance drones in the province, sources reported.

The provincial authorities announced on Saturday that it would purchase drone cameras to monitor the activities of criminals.

Home Secretary Akber Hussain Durrani told a local media outlet that the govt has forwarded a summary to the FG seeking permission.

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/07/12/national/balochistan-govt-to-deploy-surveillance-drones/

Riaz Haq said...

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and over 1,000 AI researchers co-signed an open letter to ban killer #robots http://read.bi/1KuELQa via @sai

More than a thousand artificial intelligence researchers just co-signed an open letter urging the United Nations to ban the development and use of autonomous weapons.

The letter was presented this week at the 2015 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking signed the letter, alongside leading AI scientists like Google director of research Peter Norvig, University of California, Berkeley computer scientist Stuart Russell and Microsoft managing director Eric Horvitz.

The letter states that the development of autonomous weapons, or weapons that can target and fire without a human at the controls, could bring about a "third revolution in warfare," much like the creation of guns and nuclear bombs before it.

Even if autonomous weapons were created for use in "legal" warfare, the letter warns that autonomous weapons could become "the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow" — hijacked by terrorists and used against civilians or in rogue assassinations.

To everyday citizens, the Kalahnikovs — a series of automatic rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov — are better known as AKs.

"They're likely to be used not just in wars between countries, but the way Kalashnikovs are used now ... in civil wars," Russell told Tech Insider. "[Kalashnikovs are] used to terrorize populations by warlords and guerrillas. They're used by governments to oppress their own people."

A life in fear of terrorists or governments armed with autonomous artificially intelligent weapons "would be a life for many human beings that is not something I would wish for anybody," Russell said.

Unlike nuclear arms, the letter states that lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS, would "require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."

But just how close are we to having usable autonomous weapons? According to Russell, affordable killer robots aren't a distant technology of the future. Stuart wrote in a May 2015 issue of Nature that LAWS could be feasible in just a few years.

In fact, semiautonomous weapons, which have some autonomous functions but not the capability to fire without humans, already exist. As Heather Roff, an ethics professor at the University of Denver, writes in Huffington Post Tech, the line between semiautonomous and fully autonomous is already quite thin, and getting even smaller.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-hawking-elon-musk-sign-open-letter-to-ban-killer-robots-2015-7#ixzz3hHwfvRDr

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's new killer drone Burraq killed "3 high-profile terrorosts" in Shawal near #Afghanistan border. #ZarbEAzb
http://wapo.st/1ISRy8g

An unmanned Pakistani aircraft killed three suspected terrorists Monday, marking the first time that the country’s military has used drone technology on the battlefield, officials said.

In March, Pakistan’s military declared that it had successfully armed an indigenously produced drone, which it calls the Burraq, with a laser-guided missile. But the weapon had not been used in combat until now, officials said.

Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a spokesman for the military, said in a brief statement that three “high-profile terrorists” were killed in the strike in the Shawal Valley in northwestern Pakistan. Bajwa did not identify them but said details would be forthcoming.

With the announcement, Pakistan appears to have joined a handful of nations that use armed drones as instruments of war.

[After years of delays, Pakistan cracks down on violent Islamists]

Earlier this year, the New America Foundation said there is evidence that eight other countries — the United States, South Africa, France, Nigeria, Britain, Iran, Israel and China — have placed weapons onto unmanned aircraft. At the time, the foundation said the United States, Britain and Israel were the only nations that had fired a missile from a drone during a military operation.

Pakistan’s drone program has been rapidly accelerating since it was announced in late 2013.

The Pakistani military initially said it would use drones only for surveillance. But it abandoned that stance this year in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on an army-run school that killed about 150 students and teachers.

Now, it appears, both Pakistan and the United States will be carrying out drone strikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It was not clear whether Pakistan and the United States will coordinate their use of armed drones.

[Hostage deaths raise wider questions about drone strikes’ civilian toll]

Since 2004, the United States has carried out hundreds of drone strikes on Pakistani soil, targeting al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups.

Those strikes, the latest of which occurred late last week, had been deeply unpopular with the Pakistani public. Some of that opposition has subsided as Pakistan’s military began its latest offensive against militants.

Since that operation started last summer, officials say they have cleared Islamist militants from much of the country’s tribal belt. But there are signs that the army is running into a tougher-than-expected battle in the Shawal Valley.

In July, the army announced that it had begun a final assault on the valley, which straddles North and South Waziristan and includes a network of trails and tunnels to Afghanistan. The army was met with fierce resistance.

For much of August, the military appeared to have relied on repeated airstrikes in a bid to weaken militant positions in the valley. On Aug. 20, however, the military again announced that a ground operation was underway in the valley.

Pakistan’s decision to introduce armed drones on the battlefield could unnerve arch-rival India and neighboring Afghanistan.

So far, the Pakistani military has not announced its doctrine for using drones on home soil or specified whether they also could be deployed for cross-border operations.

Pakistan has not released details about the range of its drones, but some analysts estimate that the aircraft can fly about 75 miles.

There is also uncertainty about what procedures Pakistan’s military has in place to limit civilian casualties during a drone strike. Some foreigners kidnapped by militants in Pakistan or Afghanistan, for example, are feared to still be held captive in Pakistan.

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.

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

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's Wonder Boys Reimagine Special #Education Get Global Innovation Award at #Stanford via @forbes #specialed http://www.forbes.com/sites/sonyarehman/2016/09/24/meet-pakistans-wonder-boys-reimagining-special-education/#65ec6924a9e4

Taking home third prize at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I Startup Competition held at Stanford University this year, WonderTree, a Pakistani start-up from Karachi, is on the road to aiding children with special needs by way of its thoroughly interactive augmented reality games.

For Muhammad Usman, the start-up’s co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, the birth of WonderTree swiftly took shape in 2015, when he saw his older brother (born with special needs) enjoying playing a game on his PlayStation. “It was then when all the dots connected and I realized what I wanted to do,” Usman stated.

Working closely with special education teachers, occupational therapists and psychologists, the start-up has currently developed four games that are best suited for children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD, and other mental disabilities.


With just a kinect v2 sensor, a television and a laptop as the only hardware required to play the games, WonderTree’s technology assists in developing motor, cognitive and functional skills for children with learning disabilities. But that’s not all; the start-up’s games feature an in-built reporting system which helps the developers track and document each child’s performance.

“We’re working on ways of using this data to build AI (artificial intelligence) into our games,” Usman said, speaking of WonderTree’s upcoming plans, “So in the future; our games will be able to adjust the difficulty levels and other settings as per the child’s needs, progress and disability. This will make our games highly efficient. We’re really excited about this.”