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Robots

Kirkhill

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My day starts with RealClearDefense | Opinion, News, Analysis, Video and Polls (among other things)

Today's collection of articles included some that stood out for me.

The first one was:

I attach a couple of additional articles that might be helpful.

I commissioned my first "robot" dairy back in 1982. It was a semi-automatic hybrid that combined a Programmable Logic Controller with Electro-Mechanical "Human Machine Interfaces". The PLC, or computer, was isolated from the outside world and connected within the plant by internal 24vdc wiring and Co-Ax cables. Since then I have had a love-hate relationship with the technology. While I appreciate it when it does the things I expect it to do I loathe it when unknown unknowns rear up and I absolutely detest it when intermittents start appearing. And they increase with age.

I just finished helping some youngsters commission a new system in a plant that I helped commission back in 1985. The same PLCs and E-M HMIs were still in use 36 years later. And keeping the factory Techs busy.

I have observed the replacement of co-ax with fibre-optics and wireless comms systems, the rise of Distributed Control Systems and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), Intelligent Motors and Intelligent Valves and, currently the Internet of Things.

And I have been no fan of wireless comms or the Internet of Things. Precisely because I believe they are too hackable. And, frankly, the components are sufficiently byzantine as to be unreliable and hard to maintain.

So, am I surprised about Pipeline and Burger disruptions? Not as much as I would like to be. I'm more surprised by the audacity than the technology.

In the same suggested reading list were these articles:


The last article is included specifically because of this

Kitchener said the study he led fed into the new task force focus, which has four lines of effort, told reporters today. The task force seeks to incorporate all of the groups working on LCS-related work – including the director of the surface warfare division on the chief of naval operations’ staff (OPNAV N96), the director of expeditionary warfare (OPNAV N95), and the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants – and streamline the effort.

“Between the deployments and then some of the analysis we did during the study, we came up with a couple of things to go look at. And that was basically, A) How do we make them more reliable? B) How do we sustain them forward into the future, as we looked at sort of some expeditionary maintenance concepts? [C)] We looked at the lethality – can we make them more lethal? And then finally, [D] we looked at the force generation piece, which was really, ‘okay how do we train them and then how do we properly man them and how do we move them forward?’” Kitchener said of the effort.

The LCS has its own thread. What is interesting is that the LCS is lumped together with the Ghost Fleet USV programme, the Sea Hunter USV programme and the Marines Light Amphibious Vessel. By implication these would have connections with the Marines Littoral Regiments and their NEMESIS/ROGUE programmes as well as their Long Range Precision Strike programmes.

The technology exists to make such things possible. At time of commissioning. But they are vulnerable to wear and tear, early obsolescence and - most critically - hacking.


Based on my 40 odd years in related fields my comments are these.

You can't stop technology. These things will happen.
You will have to deal with the weaknesses. Just like we had to manage fouling gas cylinders on FNs.

In terms of managing weaknesses my expectations are

We will have fewer operators.

You must retain the man-in-the-loop as a circuit-breaker, a cut-out, with the ability to isolate his command/plant from all outside interference and be able to direct the operations personally.

You need to expect breakdowns of increasing frequency and complexity. Especially among mechanical systems. Control hardware breaks on Day 1. Mechanical hardware does fine on Day 1 and gets worse from there. Control wiring does not like vibration. Software needs constant modification as unknown unknown appears.

You will need more maintainers and/or need to replace the equipment more frequently.

In the LCS case this has meant that the fleet now needs a separate fleet of MRTs to accompany the vessels with their small crews of operators.

Personally I think that is a better idea.



I am not a fan of industrial age manning which puts an entire gaggle of people on the firing line. Personally I would as soon have as few people as possible on the firing line, but not zero, with the maintenance and support staff a bound or two to the rear and ready to rapidly RV with the firing (and sensing) elements.

That is why I argue for ships with crews of 6 and tanks and guns with crews of 1. The crew supplies the critical control cut-out. The small size means that a small amount of armour can be focused of encapsulating the crew and permitting them to survive the destruction of their weapon system and escape. It also means less wear and tear and less cost.
 

Kirkhill

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Manual - 4 to 7 operators on the firing line and exposed
1623164268095.png1623164277043.png
Semi-Automatic (loaders on board) - 4-5 operators on the firing line but under armour
1623164313247.png1623164341792.png
Automatic - 2 operators on the firing line
1623164381138.png1623164431670.png
Automatic - 2 operators on the firing line and under cover.
1623164614832.png

The keys to success,

Low cost
Replaceable
Easily maintained
Dedicated Operators few
Strong maintenance team
Operators trained in troubleshooting
Artificial Intelligence controlled by local, onboard, commander.

Commander is always required to relay instructions and observations to and from the system. Never bypassed. Maintain a human chain of command.

And missiles have fewer moving parts than guns - easier to maintain and cheaper to replace.
 

reveng

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I commissioned my first "robot" dairy back in 1982. It was a semi-automatic hybrid that combined a Programmable Logic Controller with Electro-Mechanical "Human Machine Interfaces". The PLC, or computer, was isolated from the outside world and connected within the plant by internal 24vdc wiring and Co-Ax cables. Since then I have had a love-hate relationship with the technology. While I appreciate it when it does the things I expect it to do I loathe it when unknown unknowns rear up and I absolutely detest it when intermittents start appearing. And they increase with age.

I just finished helping some youngsters commission a new system in a plant that I helped commission back in 1985. The same PLCs and E-M HMIs were still in use 36 years later. And keeping the factory Techs busy.

I have observed the replacement of co-ax with fibre-optics and wireless comms systems, the rise of Distributed Control Systems and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), Intelligent Motors and Intelligent Valves and, currently the Internet of Things.

And I have been no fan of wireless comms or the Internet of Things. Precisely because I believe they are too hackable. And, frankly, the components are sufficiently byzantine as to be unreliable and hard to maintain.

So, am I surprised about Pipeline and Burger disruptions? Not as much as I would like to be. I'm more surprised by the audacity than the technology.
Ever since Stuxnet, I've found the world of industrial automation fascinating. I expect there to be no shortage of attacks on OT/cyber-physical systems in the coming years. And the lessons learned in crime will prove invaluable in war.
 

Kirkhill

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You can't stop technology. These things will happen.

You will have to deal with the weaknesses. Just like we had to manage fouling gas cylinders on FNs.

In terms of managing weaknesses my expectations are

We will have fewer operators.

You must retain the man-in-the-loop as a circuit-breaker, a cut-out, with the ability to isolate his command/plant from all outside interference and be able to direct the operations personally.

You need to expect breakdowns of increasing frequency and complexity. Especially among mechanical systems. Control hardware breaks on Day 1. Mechanical hardware does fine on Day 1 and gets worse from there. Control wiring does not like vibration. Software needs constant modification as unknown unknown appears.

You will need more maintainers and/or need to replace the equipment more frequently.

In the LCS case this has meant that the fleet now needs a separate fleet of MRTs to accompany the vessels with their small crews of operators.

Personally I think that is a better idea.



I am not a fan of industrial age manning which puts an entire gaggle of people on the firing line. Personally I would as soon have as few people as possible on the firing line, but not zero, with the maintenance and support staff a bound or two to the rear and ready to rapidly RV with the firing (and sensing) elements.

That is why I argue for ships with crews of 6 and tanks and guns with crews of 1. The crew supplies the critical control cut-out. The small size means that a small amount of armour can be focused of encapsulating the crew and permitting them to survive the destruction of their weapon system and escape. It also means less wear and tear and less cost.


In keeping with this thinking I'm going to reapproach the manning of the CSCs.

In the past I have argued for crew minimization. The counter to that has been the need for maintainers. The counter to the counter is that maintainers are hard to come by, hard to train, hard to keep and expensive - all of which makes it a losing proposition, IMO, to maintain a gaggle of maintainers in the line of fire.

But they will always be required, and close at hand.

Which brings me to this.

I have proposed making a Flotilla of 3 CSCs an integral part of a Canadian Expeditionary Force. 3 Commanders/Lt Cols in charge of the 3 CSCs = 1 Brigade Equivalent. On shore they would be supported by the Brigade Maintenance Area. The Navy is getting a pair of Joint Support Ships.

What happens if a Flotilla consisted of 2x JSS and 3x CSC - with the CSCs employing Artificial Intelligence to facilitate optional/minimal manning?

The JSS, built to MilSpec standards and equipped with their own point defence systems would be home for 2nd line maintenance and, perhaps, 2 out of 3 of the CSC divisions.

The JSS, on the high seas, or a nearby friendly port, could be the hotel for support and for atts.

The CSCs would operate on a reduced crew, perhaps even as low as 20-50 on a high risk strike mission or other operation in close proximity to risk.

Replacement Divisions and 1st and 2nd Line Maintenance would be a tactical bound or two behind. JSS as mothership for a CSC flotilla.
 
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