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Norwegian Leopard 2 A4 NO Tank (Source: Metziker/Flickr)
A Russian company has declared that they are modifying one of their ground robots to be able to target M1 Abrams and Leopard tanks, which are being sent to Ukraine by the United States, Germany, Poland, and other countries.
On Wednesday, Dmitry Rogozin, the former head of Roscosmos and current leader of the “Royal Wolves” group, declared via Telegram that he was coordinating with the Advanced Research Foundation and Android Technology to create a combat variant of the Marker ground reconnaissance robot, which was developed by Android.
In a post on Telegram, Rogozin proclaimed that before the coming of the Abrams and Leopards to Ukraine, we ought to be equipped for their annihilation with our own version of the Marker.
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Rogozin declared that the Marker could recognize and target the Abrams, Leopard, and other enemy vehicles because its control system had an electronic catalog with images of the adversary’s equipment.
2018 was a year when Android became a topic of conversation due to a declaration that FEDOR, a robotic cosmonaut, was to be placed aboard the International Space Station. Unfortunately, this ultimately did not come to fruition.
Sam Bendett, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and adviser at the CNA Corporation, does not expect Russia to deploy significant ground combat robots to Ukraine.
This is the unmanned Russian AI-controlled robot tank killer called Marker. It can take out Abrams and Leopard tanks from a distance of 6km like shooting fish in a barrel. Don't bother explaining this to Biden. He's too senile to understand. pic.twitter.com/2HSJHq4ukM
“It appears that most of the existing Markers, 3 out of 5, will in fact be tested in Ukraine, and can be lost in combat,” Bendett said via email. “It also appears that Android Technology is actually ok with that, indicating a willingness to respond to the [Ministry of Defense] needs for improved weapons and tactics, and perhaps indicating that the company is working on other projects that can build on the Marker experience.”
In response to Russia’s statement about a robot tank, Bendett tweeted his disbelief, characterizing it as a publicity stunt. In addition, he queried how well a robotic system could compete against a tank operated by a well-trained human crew.
“Previous Marker tests – at least those made public – were against small UAVs, and these [unmanned ground vehicles, or UGVs] conducted tests for orienting in a complex space like a forest, but not an actual battlefield where multiple countermeasures are trying to destroy the vehicle. Moreover, Western tanks will be part of combined arms formations with aerial support like drones and UAVs, which are going to hunt for any Russian target, including the likes of Marker ground vehicles. Rogozin’s earlier claims of Marker as a recon UGV were more realistic.”
The earlier Marker tests made public have only been against small UAVs. These UGVs performed tests to determine their ability to orient in a complex environment, such as a forest, but not in a battlefield where multiple countermeasures attempt to destroy the vehicle. Additionally, Western tanks will be part of battle formations with aerial support, such as drones and UAVs, searching for any Russian target, including Marker ground vehicles. Therefore, Rogozin’s assertions of Marker being a reconnaissance UGV were more realistic.
Western sanctions have varied impacts on Russian tech companies like UGV producers, as demonstrated in a recent report from the Silverado Policy Accelerator. These sanctions have tried to impede the import of computer components to Russia; however, the results have been inconsistent.
Evgeny Dudorov, Android’s CEO, reported last month that the sanctions imposed on technology have had a negligible effect on their capability of obtaining necessary component parts, as stated by Bendett.
According to Dudorov, the influx of investments from the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade will help the native robotics sector come to par with the forerunners in the span of 1.5-2 years and eventually reach the same level as the current market leaders within 10-12 years.
According to Bendett, Dudorov’s evaluation was “optimistic” in light of the Russian high-tech sector’s ongoing reliance on imported components. Indeed, almost 80% of Dudorov’s FEDOR robot was composed of parts outside Russia. This high reliance rate on imported parts is a significant obstacle to achieving the goals set by Dudorov.
To reduce the reliance on imported parts, Bendett highlighted that Russia needs to increase its focus on product diversification and IP protection as well as nurturing local talent through an effective ecosystem of academic programs, research initiatives, and industry incentives. Russia also needs to expand its support of growth-stage and early-stage startups to optimize the potential for innovation in the robotics sector.
Ultimately, with adequate resources, investments, and a supportive environment, Russian firms have the potential to become global leaders within the next decade. This will involve a significant effort from both government and the private sector.
How about you? What do you think about Russia’s vision of this futuristic tank-decimating robot? Real or hoax? Let us know in the comments below!
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