Robot Wars: How Technology Is Shaping Ukraine Conflict

Robot Wars: How Technology Is Shaping Ukraine Conflict

Ancient weapons and advanced technology have made the war in Ukraine a testing ground for how the old meets the new.

A new era of AI drones hovers over the trench warfare and Soviet tank and artillery fire that make up much of the image of the Russian offensive.

Moscow has reportedly used Kobe Kalashnikov and Kamikaze Lancet drones, while Ukraine has used Turkish Bayraktar TB2s with "laser-guided smart munitions".

The use of Russian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) Shahed-136, also known as "kamikaze drones", each costing less than $20,000, has given Moscow a cheap but effective way to attack Ukraine's energy infrastructure and terrorize the population. Tehran denies the supply of drones.

Ukrainian military help a drone operator launch a drone in Zaporozhye, Ukraine, November 11, 2022. Elena Tita/Global Image Ukraine/Getty © Olena Tita/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Ukrainian military help an operator launch an unmanned aerial vehicle in Zaporozhye, Ukraine, November 11, 2022. Elena Tita/Global Image Ukraine/Getty

The United States has promised to provide Ukraine with the Switchblade Kamikaze and Phoenix Ghost drones, which use GPS software to track and locate objects.

“I think we are in the first AI cyber war,” said David Chipoletta, co-founder and chief technology officer of Pison, which supplies the Ukrainian military with wearable bracelets using so-called neural control technology.

Worn on the right wrist, this kit allows you to quickly interact by putting the drone into firing mode without using the joystick. Pison will provide technology to the Ukrainian military as early as 2023, possibly as part of a US-UK security aid package.

Chipoletta met with Ukrainian engineers who make equipment and send it to the front lines.

“The amount of technology innovation over the past few months is insane, but there is a lot of innovation,” he told Newsweek . “Every two weeks they sign off on a new design for their drone, this UGV unmanned ground vehicle, just to help the military on the front lines. They are very unified in offering new features.

“I think this is the first time we are seeing many of these drones being used for military purposes and not for insurgent purposes.”

Cameron Chill, CEO of Draganfly, an unmanned aerial vehicle company founded in 1998, said the war in Ukraine has brought about the most dramatic change in military affairs "probably since the advent of the tank in World War I."

His company has provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid drones to deliver medicines and detect landmines. He also supplied reconnaissance drones to the Ukrainian defense agency DEF-C, which supplies the military in Kyiv.

Deployment of military technology could take years due to regulations, Chell told Newsweek , but the urgent need to use it on the battlefield has accelerated the deployment.

“When you get into the situation that Ukraine is in, they are very resourceful,” he said. This is driven by the attitude that "we could try this because we don't have any other choice or we don't have a better option."

For the use of drones, they "let go". He said his company offers drones that immediately identify areas to be cleaned, much faster than "prick and squeeze."

A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone flies over the Sigitkal military air base near Famagusta, Northern Cyprus (TRNC), December 16, 2019. Ukraine used drones during the Russian invasion. Rare Bebek / Getty Images © BIROL BEBEK / Getty Images A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone flies over the Gechitkale military air base near Famagusta, Northern Cyprus (TRNC), December 16, 2019. Ukraine used the drones during the Russian invasion. Rare Bebek / Getty Images

air supremacy

Technology has improved the traditional air superiority factor in determining the outcome of a collision, Chill says.

“Air dominance has traditionally been for those who can afford it,” he said. “What we saw during the war in Ukraine is air superiority from 10,000 feet. Regardless of the size of your system, no matter how much money you spend, air superiority at 10,000 feet has been proven by small drones [unmanned aerial systems].

“It completely changes the tactics and strategy of what you do in this theatrical struggle.”

For use on the ground, Milrem Robotics and German defense firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) said they would supply 14 THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to Ukraine, half of which will be used for casualty evacuation.

The Ukrainian robotics company Temerland has released an armed robotic reconnaissance platform GNOME, designed as a mine action vehicle, Coda Story reports.

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a crashed Russian drone near a research institute after an attack northwest of Kyiv, March 22, 2022. Russians use drones to strike targets in Ukraine Ares Messin/Getty Images © ARIS MESSINIS / Getty Images A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a crashed Russian drone near a research institute after an attack in northwest Kiev, March 22, 2022. Russians used drones to attack targets in Ukraine Ares Messin / Getty Images

However, Professor Daniel Viot of the Free University of Brussels, a research university in Brussels, says that despite all the talk about new technologies, “Ukrainians are already using well-known technologies such as satellites and drones to increase their advantage on the battlefield. .

“For the most part, the Ukrainian military is dealing with hardened steel, mud and gore, rather than futuristic, AI-inspired action scenes from movies,” he told Newsweek .

However, the Ukrainian military has shown great flexibility in acquiring off-the-shelf commercial drones and using smart methods, such as geolocation monitoring on personal apps, to track Russian troops, he said.

“We also saw how Ukraine was able to exploit Russian naivety on the battlefield by using artificial intelligence systems to intercept Russian communications,” said Viot, a research fellow at the Real Elcano Institute in Madrid.

AI technologies have also helped protect Ukrainian infrastructure, although there is a limit as no amount of cyber defense can protect the power grid from missile attacks.

He added: "We see some new technological features appearing during this war, but in my opinion they are not revolutionary."

That a new generation of autonomous machines, colloquially referred to as "killer robots," could change modern warfare raises other concerns.

Mark Hubrod, the physicist who proposed a ban on autonomous weapons, said he still does not believe such devices are being used unchecked on the battlefield in Ukraine.

However, he told Newsweek: “There should be strict requirements for the people who are responsible for operating all weapons, especially drones, remotely controlled systems that appear to be able to operate autonomously.

“The danger of autonomous weapons is that they lead to an independent war beyond the control of man.”

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