February 3, 2018

Are Autonomous Cars Really Safer Than Human Drivers?

Most comparisons between human drivers and automated vehicles have been at best uneven—and at worst unfair

By Peter Hancock & The Conversation US

autonomous car thesis

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The following essay is reprinted with permission from  The Conversation , an online publication covering the latest research.

Much of the push toward self-driving cars has been underwritten by the  hope that they will save lives  by getting involved in fewer crashes with  fewer injuries and deaths  than human-driven cars. But so far, most comparisons between human drivers and automated vehicles have been at best uneven, and at worst, unfair.

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The statistics  measuring how many crashes occur  are hard to argue with:  More than 90 percent  of car crashes in the U.S. are thought to involve some form of  driver error . Eliminating this error would,  in two years , save as many people as the country lost in  all of the Vietnam War .

But to me, as a  human factors researcher , that’s not enough information to properly evaluate whether automation may actually be better than humans at not crashing. Their respective crash rates can only be determined by also knowing how many non-collisions happen. For human drivers is it one collision per billion chances to crash, or one in a  trillion ?

Assessing the rate at which things do not happen is extremely difficult. For example, estimating how many times you didn’t bump into someone in the hall today relates to how many people there were in the hallway and how long you were walking there. Also, people forget non-events very quickly, if we even notice them happening. To determine whether automated vehicles are safer than humans, researchers will need to establish a non-collision rate for both humans and these emerging driverless vehicles.

Comparing appropriate statistics

Crash statistics for human-driven cars  are compiled from all sorts of driving situations, and on all types of roads. This includes people driving through pouring rain, on dirt roads and climbing steep slopes in the snow. However, much of the data on self-driving cars’ safety comes  from Western states  of the U.S., often in good weather. Large amounts of the data have been recorded on unidirectional, multi-lane highways, where the most important tasks are staying in the car’s own lane and not getting too close to the vehicle ahead.

Automated cars are  rather good at those kinds of tasks  – but then again, so are humans. The data on fully automated systems will naturally expand to cover more roads as  states allow automated vehicles  to operate more widely. But it will take some time before self-driving cars can cover as many miles in a year and in as many circumstances as human drivers presently do.

It is true that self-driving cars don’t get  tired, angry, frustrated or drunk . But neither can they yet react to uncertain and ambiguous situations with the same skill or anticipation of an attentive human driver, which suggests that perhaps the two still  need to work together . Nor do purely automated vehicles possess the foresight to avoid potential peril: They largely drive from moment to moment, rather than thinking ahead to possible events literally  down the road .

To an automated vision system, a bus shelter full of people  might appear quite similar to an uninhabited corn field . Indeed, deciding what action to take in an emergency is difficult for humans, but drivers have  sacrificed themselves for the greater good of others . An automated system’s  limited understanding of the world  means it  will almost never  evaluate a situation the same way a human would. And machines can’t be specifically programmed in advance to  handle every imaginable set of events .

New tech brings new concerns

Some people may argue that the promise of simply reducing the number of injuries and deaths is enough to justify expanding the use of driverless cars. I do agree that it would be a great thing if tomorrow were the dawn of a new day when a completely driverless roadway killed or injured no one; although such an arrangement might  suck more of the enjoyment  from our everyday lives, especially for those who love driving.

But experience from aviation shows that as new automated systems are introduced, there is  often an increase in the rate of adverse events . Though temporary, this potential  uptick in the crash rate  may cause concern for the general public and then politicians, lawmakers and even manufacturers – who  might be discouraged  from sticking with the new technology.

As a result, comparisons between humans and automated vehicles have to be performed carefully. This is particularly true because human-controlled vehicles are likely to remain on the roads for many years and even decades to come. How will people and driverless cars mix together, and  who will be at fault for any collisions  between them?

To fairly evaluate driverless cars on how well they fulfill their promise of improved safety, it’s important to ensure the data being presented actually provide a true comparison. Choosing to replace humans with automation has more effects than simply a  one-for-one swap . It’s important to make those decisions mindfully.

This article was originally published on  The Conversation . Read the  original article .

Seven Arguments Against the Autonomous-Vehicle Utopia

All the ways the self-driving future won’t come to pass

People stand indoors near a silver self-driving car.

Self-driving cars are coming. Tech giants such as Uber and Alphabet have bet on it, as have old-school car manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors. But even as Google’s sister company Waymo prepares to launch its self-driving-car service and automakers prototype vehicles with various levels of artificial intelligence , there are some who believe that the autonomous future has been oversold—that even if driverless cars are coming, it won’t be as fast, or as smooth, as we’ve been led to think. The skeptics come from different disciplines inside and out of the technology and automotive industries, and each has a different bear case against self-driving cars. Add them up and you have a guide to all the ways our autonomous future might not materialize.

Bear Case 1: They Won’t Work Until Cars Are as Smart as Humans

Computers have nowhere near human intelligence. On individual tasks, such as playing Go or identifying some objects in a picture, they can outperform humans, but that skill does not generalize. Proponents of autonomous cars tend to see driving as more like Go: a task that can be accomplished with a far-lower-than-human understanding of the world. But in a duo of essays in 2017, Rodney Brooks, a legendary roboticist and artificial-intelligence researcher who directed the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for a decade, argued against the short-term viability of self-driving cars based on the sheer number of “edge cases,” i.e., unusual circumstances, they’d have to handle.

Read: The AI that has nothing to learn from humans

“Even with an appropriate set of guiding principles, there are going to be a lot of perceptual challenges … that are way beyond those that current developers have solved with deep learning networks, and perhaps a lot more automated reasoning than any AI systems have so far been expected to demonstrate,” he wrote . “I suspect that to get this right we will end up wanting our cars to be as intelligent as a human, in order to handle all the edge cases appropriately. ”

He still believes that self-driving cars will one day come to supplant human drivers. “Human driving will probably disappear in the lifetimes of many people reading this,” he wrote. “But it is not going to all happen in the blink of an eye.”

Bear Case 2: They Won’t Work, Because They’ll Get Hacked

Every other computer thing occasionally gets hacked, so it’s a near-certainty that self-driving cars will be hacked, too. The question is whether that intrusion—or the fear of it— will be sufficient to delay or even halt the introduction of autonomous vehicles.

Read: The banality of the Equifax breach

The transportation reporter and self-driving car skeptic Christian Wolmar once asked a self-driving-car security specialist named Tim Mackey to lay out the problem. Mackey “believes there will be a seminal event that will stop all the players in the industry in their tracks,” Wolmar wrote . ‘‘We have had it in other areas of computing, such as the big-data hacks and security lapses and it will happen in relation to autonomous cars.” Cars, even ones that don’t drive themselves, have already proved vulnerable to hackers .

The obvious counterargument is that data lapses, hacking, identity theft, and a whole lot of other things have done basically nothing to slow down the consumer internet. A lot of people see these problems and shrug . However, the physical danger that cars pose is far greater, and maybe the norms developed for robots will be different from those prevalent on the internet, legally and otherwise , as the University of Washington legal scholar Ryan Calo has argued.

Bear Case 3: They Won’t Work as a Transportation Service

Right now most companies working on self-driving cars are working on them as the prelude to a self-driving-car service. So you wouldn’t own your car; you’d just get rides from a fleet of robo-cars maintained by Waymo or Uber or Lyft. One reason for that is the current transportation-service companies can’t seem to find their way to profitability. In fact, they keep losing insane amounts of money . Take the driver out of the equation and maybe all of that money saved would put them in the black. At the same time, the equipment that’s mounted on self-driving cars to allow them to adequately convert physical reality into data is extremely expensive. Consumer vehicles with all those lasers and computers on board would be prohibitively expensive. On top of that, the question of calibrating and maintaining all that equipment would be entrusted to people like me, who don’t wash their car for months at a time.

Read: Will Uber and Lyft become different things?

Put these factors together and the first step in fully autonomous vehicles that most companies are betting on is to sell robo-car service, not robo-cars.

There is a simple rejoinder to why this might not work. George Hotz, who is himself attempting to build a DIY driving device, has a funny line that sums it up. “They already have this product, it’s called Uber, it works pretty good,” Hotz told The Verge . And what is a robo-car ride if not “a worse Uber”?

Bear Case 4: They Won’t Work, Because You Can’t Prove They’re Safe

Commercial airplanes rely heavily on autopilot, but the autopilot software is considered provably safe because it does not rely on machine-learning algorithms. Such algorithms are harder to test because they rely on statistical techniques that are not deterministic. Several engineers have questioned how self-driving systems based on machine learning could be rigorously screened. “Most people, when they talk about safety, it’s ‘Try not to hit something,’” Phil Koopman, who studies self-driving-car safety at Carnegie Mellon University, told Wired this year. “In the software-safety world, that’s just basic functionality. Real safety is, ‘Does it really work?’ Safety is about the one kid the software might have missed, not about the 99 it didn’t.”

Regulators will ultimately decide if the evidence that self-driving-car companies such as Waymo have compiled of safe operation on roads and in simulations meets some threshold of safety. More deaths caused by autonomous vehicles, such as an Uber’s killing of Elaine Herzberg , seem likely to drive that threshold higher.

Koopman, for one, thinks that new global standards like the ones we have for aviation are needed before self-driving cars can really get on the road, which one imagines would slow down the adoption of the cars worldwide.

Bear Case 5: They’ll Work, But Not Anytime Soon

Last year, Ford announced plans to invest $1 billion in Argo AI, a self-driving-car company. So it was somewhat surprising when Argo’s CEO, Bryan Salesky, posted a pessimistic note about autonomous vehicles on Medium shortly after. “We’re still very much in the early days of making self-driving cars a reality,” he wrote . “Those who think fully self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous on city streets months from now or even in a few years are not well connected to the state of the art or committed to the safe deployment of the technology.”

In truth, that’s the timeline the less aggressive carmakers have put forth. Most companies expect some version of self-driving cars in the 2020s, but when within the decade is where the disagreement lies.

Bear Case 6: Self-Driving Cars Will Mostly Mean Computer-Assisted Drivers

While Waymo and a few other companies are committed to fully driverless cars or nothing, most major carmakers plan to offer increasing levels of autonomy , bit by bit. That’s GM’s play with the Cadillac Super Cruise. Daimler, Nissan, and Toyota are targeting the early 2020s for incremental autonomy.

Read: The most important self-driving car announcement yet

Waymo’s leadership and Aurora’s Chris Urmson worry that disastrous scenarios lie down this path. A car that advertises itself as self-driving “should never require the person in the driver’s seat to drive. That hand back [from machine to human] is the hard part,” Urmson told me last year . “If you want to drive and enjoy driving, God bless you, go have fun, do it. But if you don’t want to drive, it’s not okay for the car to say, ‘I really need you in this moment to do that.’”

Bear Case 7: Self-Driving Cars Will Work, But Make Traffic and Emissions Worse

And finally, what if self-driving works, technically, but the system it creates only “solve[s] the problem of ‘I live in a wealthy suburb but have a horrible car commute and don’t want to drive anymore but also hate trains and buses,’” as the climate advocate Matt Lewis put it . That’s what University of California at Davis researchers warn could happen if people don’t use (electric-powered) self-driving services and instead own (gasoline-powered) self-driving cars. “Sprawl would continue to grow as people seek more affordable housing in the suburbs or the countryside, since they’ll be able to work or sleep in the car on their commute,” the scenario unfolds . Public transportation could spiral downward as ride-hailing services take share from the common infrastructure.

And that’s not an unlikely scenario based on current technological and market trends. “Left to the market and individual choice, the likely outcome is more vehicles, more driving and a slow transition to electric cars,” wrote Dan Sperling, the director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, in his 2018 book, Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future .

It would certainly be a cruel twist if self-driving cars managed to save lives on the road while contributing to climate catastrophe. But if the past few years of internet history have taught us anything, any technology as powerful and society-shaping as autonomous vehicles will certainly have unintended consequences. And skeptics might just have a handle on what those could be.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 1, 2024

autonomous car thesis

Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Riley Bailey, and Karolina Hird

March 1, 2024, 6:15pm ET

Click  here  to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.  

Click  here  to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click  here  to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on March 1. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the March 2 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Reported details of Russian-Ukrainian peace negotiations that occurred in Istanbul in April 2022 indicate that Russia has consistently envisioned a settlement for its illegal invasion of Ukraine wherein Ukraine would be unable to defend itself from a future Russian attack – an objective Russia continues to pursue under calls for Ukraine’s “demilitarization.”  The  Wall Street Journal  ( WSJ ) reported on March 1 that documents it obtained of the draft treaty from the 2022 Ukrainian-Russian peace negotiations indicate that both sides initially agreed that Ukraine would be a “permanently neutral state that doesn't participate in military blocs.”[1] The draft treaty also reportedly banned Ukraine from receiving any foreign weapons or hosting any foreign military personnel. The  WSJ  reported that Russia pushed for the Ukrainian military to be limited to 85,000 soldiers, 342 tanks, and 519 artillery systems, whereas Ukraine wanted the caps to be 250,000 soldiers, 800 tanks, and 1,900 artillery systems. Russia also reportedly demanded that Ukrainian missiles be limited to a range of 40 kilometers, a range that would allow Russian forces to deploy critical systems and materiel close to Ukraine without fear of strikes. The Kremlin has repeatedly called for the “demilitarization” of Ukraine since its full-scale invasion but has not previously provided details on what that would specifically entail.[2] The Ukrainian military in 2014 – before Russia’s first invasion – consisted of about 130,000 personnel, and the documents from 2022 indicate that Russia intended to drastically reduce Ukraine’s military to such a level that Ukraine could no longer defend itself.[3] Russian President Vladimir Putin has most recently emphasized the idea of a “demilitarized” or “sanitary” zone in Ukraine that would place Russian territory – including occupied Ukraine – out of range of both Ukrainian frontline artillery systems and Western-provided long-range systems.[4] Putin likely aims for the ”demilitarization” of Ukraine to allow him to enforce his will upon Ukraine without any substantial resistance.

Reported details of the draft treaty suggest that Russia intended to use the treaty to set conditions for future attacks against Ukraine while also prompting the West to make concessions on Ukraine’s sovereignty.  The  WSJ  reported that the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia were to be guarantors of the treaty.[5] Russia also reportedly wanted to include Belarus as a guarantor. The guarantor states were supposed to “terminate international treaties and agreements incompatible with the permanent neutrality of Ukraine,” including military aid agreements. The  WSJ  did not specify if other non-guarantor states would have to terminate their agreements with Ukraine as well, although this is likely considering that the treaty would ban Ukraine from having foreign-supplied weapons. It is unclear what Russia considers to be “incompatible” with a permanently “neutral” Ukraine, although the Kremlin most certainly would have broadly interpreted this as forbidding Ukraine from joining NATO, which is stipulated by Ukraine’s constitution, thereby likely demanding that Ukraine amend its constitution.[6] Russia reportedly wanted all guarantors to agree on a response should Ukraine be subject to any attacks, but the  WSJ  stated that the guarantor states were unlikely to agree on a response should Russia attack Ukraine again – likely due to the guarantor states’ diverging interests. This stipulation likely intended to allow Russia to influence, predict, and prepare for the international response to any possible future Russian attacks on Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that any ceasefire would benefit Russia, giving it time to reconstitute and regroup for future offensive operations.[7]

Russia’s territorial objectives beyond the areas it occupied in 2022 likely prevented Russia and Ukraine from agreeing on the status of Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine in April 2022. The  WSJ  reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were to hold “face-to-face talks” to discuss areas of eastern Ukraine that Russian forces have occupied since 2014, but that this meeting never took place.[8] The need for Putin and Zelensky to discuss the matter independently and separately suggests that the Russian and Ukrainian negotiating delegations were unable to reach an agreement on the status of the Russian-occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, likely due to Russia’s wider expansionist territorial desires, as Kremlin officials have repeatedly indicated.[9] The  WSJ  did not report on any clauses in the treaty concerning Russian-occupied territory outside of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Russian authorities suggested that the Kremlin has likely adopted a more extensive set of goals regarding Ukraine over the course of Russia's war against Ukraine.  Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitri Peskov responded to the leaked April 2022 draft agreement between Russia and Ukraine, claiming that the draft agreement is “no longer relevant” and that “conditions have changed.”[10]   Peskov's statements are likely part of a current trend of increased Russian confidence in the Russian military’s capabilities and the attainability of Putin’s maximalist war objectives following the recent seizure of Avdiivka and prolonged US debates about military aid to Ukraine.[11] ISW continues to assess that Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains his maximalist objectives in Ukraine, which are tantamount to complete Ukrainian and Western capitulation, and that Russia has no interest in good-faith negotiations with Ukraine.[12]

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to disparage Russian elites in his February 29 Federal Assembly speech, more closely aligning himself with the veteran and military community and drawing praise from ultranationalist milbloggers.  Putin attempted to distance himself from the Russian elite by claiming that the individuals who “lined their pockets due to economic processes in the 1990s” are not the elite, but that the ”real elite” are workers and military servicemen who proved their loyalty to Russia.[13] Putin used this subverted definition of elites to praise the Russian military and align himself more strongly with the veteran and military community, stating that military veterans should hold leading positions in Russian society, business, and government and “should be entrusted with Russia’s future” and implying that veterans should take on roles traditionally occupied by Russian elites. Several Russian milbloggers supported Putin’s claim that Russian military veterans should hold prominent and influential roles in Russian society and framed Putin‘s statements as the start of a campaign to change the “elites” of Russia.[14] Putin also proposed expanding and creating multiple economic support measures including "more fairly distributing the tax burden toward those with higher personal and corporate incomes.”[15] One Russian milblogger explicitly expressed support for economic reforms that would replace “oligarch capitalism“ with ”equal opportunities and minimal stratification in living standards.”[16] Putin’s criticism of Russian elites and economic proposals that would, in theory, reduce their influence may intensify an existing rhetorical line among pro-war milbloggers criticizing Russian elites.[17]

Kremlin officials met with leaders of the pro-Russian Moldovan autonomous region Gagauzia and emphasized Russia’s support for Gagauzia against perceived Moldovan “oppression” on March 1.  Russian Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko met with Gagauzian Governor Yevgenia Gutsul and People’s Assembly Chairperson Dmitry Konstantinov in Moscow and criticized Moldovan authorities for “Russophobic” policies that are supposedly antithetical to Moldova’s national interests.[18] Matviyenko added that the Russian Federation Council is prepared to provide “all possible assistance” in expanding Russian-Gagauzian relations.[19] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that 10 Russian federal subjects signed a range of bilateral agreements emphasizing economic and humanitarian ties with Gagauzia.[20] A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger who has previously focused on discontent in Gagauzia and pro-Russian Moldovan breakaway region Transnistria stated that Gutsul and Konstantinov are ”following the example of Transnistria” by asking for Russia’s support in the face of Moldovan ”oppression.”[21] The Transnistrian Congress of Deputies recently met and adopted a series of decisions that likely aim to provide the Kremlin with justifications for a wide range of possible escalatory actions against Moldova that the Kremlin can either pursue immediately or over the long term.[22] ISW has observed indications that the Kremlin hopes to use pro-Russian actors in Gagauzia as another basis to justify future intervention and hybrid operations aimed at destabilizing and polarizing Moldova to prevent or slow Moldova’s integration in the European Union (EU).[23]

Ukraine and the Netherlands signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on March 1. [24]  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the Netherlands announced that it would provide 2 billion euros (about $2.17 billion) in military aid to Ukraine in 2024 and additional security assistance over the next 10 years.[25] Zelensky stated that the bilateral security agreement prioritizes assistance in air defense and artillery systems and naval and long-range weapons.[26] The Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that it will provide Ukraine with 14 rigid-hull inflatable boats, eight paramilitary river patrol boats, and CB90-class fast assault craft.[27] The Dutch MoD also announced that it is increasing its contribution to the Czech initiative to provide artillery shells to Ukraine from 100 million euros (about $108 million) to 250 million euros (about $271 million).[28]

Key Takeaways:

  • Reported details of Russian-Ukrainian peace negotiations that occurred in Istanbul in April 2022 indicate that Russia has consistently envisioned a settlement for its illegal invasion of Ukraine wherein Ukraine would be unable to defend itself from a future Russian attack – an objective Russia continues to pursue under calls for Ukraine’s “demilitarization.”
  • Reported details of the draft treaty suggest that Russia intended to use the treaty to set conditions for future attacks against Ukraine while also prompting the West to make concessions on Ukraine’s sovereignty.
  • Russian authorities suggested that the Kremlin has likely adopted a more extensive set of goals regarding Ukraine over the course of Russia's war against Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to disparage Russian elites in his February 29 Federal Assembly speech, more closely aligning himself with the veteran and military community and drawing praise from ultranationalist milbloggers.
  • Kremlin officials met with leaders of the pro-Russian Moldovan autonomous region Gagauzia and emphasized Russia’s support for Gagauzia against perceived Moldovan “oppression” on March 1.
  • Ukraine and the Netherlands signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on March 1.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and Donetsk City on March 1.
  • Russian authorities will likely use annual combat training for Russian reservists to support crypto-mobilization efforts.

autonomous car thesis

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.   

  • Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis
  • Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign
  • Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Russian Technological Adaptations
  • Activities in Russian-occupied areas
  • Ukrainian Defense Industrial Base Efforts

Russian Information Operations and Narratives

  • Significant Activity in Belarus

Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast  (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)

Positional engagements continued along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 1. Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka and Petropavlivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka; west of Kreminna near Terny and Yampolivka; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[29] Russian milbloggers published footage purportedly showing Russian forces striking a Ukrainian pontoon bridge across the Oskil River near Kupyansk-Vuzlovy (immediately southeast of Kupyansk) with a glide bomb and claimed that Russian forces have destroyed all the stationary bridges across the Oskil River.[30] Russian forces likely damaged stationary bridges across the Oskil River during a coordinated strike campaign in September and October 2023, although this effort did not succeed in isolating the Ukrainian defense northeast of Kupyansk at the time, and Ukrainian forces do not yet appear to be facing serious difficulties in supplying positions on the east bank of the Oskil River.[31] An increase in Russian strikes on Ukrainian crossings along the Oskil River would be an indicator that Russian forces may intend to intensify the ongoing Russian offensive operation along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.[32] Elements of the Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz ”Aida” group and the Russian ”GORB” detachment are reportedly operating near Bilohorivka.[33]

autonomous car thesis

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast  (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Note: ISW is restructuring its coverage of the Donetsk Oblast axis to include activity in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area. During the 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive, ISW assessed that Ukrainian activity in the border area was a supporting and related effort to Ukrainian activity in the south. As Russian forces have seized the battlefield initiative following the end of the counteroffensive, Russian troops appear to be trying to drive southwest of Donetsk City while simultaneously driving northeast from the Velyka Novosilka area on the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border. This Russian effort appears to include settlements along the O0532 Marinka-Pobieda-Vuhledar route. ISW will further restructure the Donetsk Oblast axis if Russian operational objectives in this area appear to change in the future.

Positional fighting continued near Bakhmut on March 1. Select Russian milbloggers refuted previous Russian claims that Russian forces captured Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut) and claimed that Russian forces continued to advance near and within the settlement.[34] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of recent notable tactical Russian gains within Ivanivske. Positional fighting continued northeast of Bakhmut near Berestove and Rozdolivka; northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka; southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Kurdyumivka; and south of Bakhmut near Pivdenne and Niu York.[35] Elements of the 98th Airborne (VDV) Division and the 11th VDV Brigade reportedly continue to operate in the Bakhmut direction.[36]

autonomous car thesis

Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash indicated on March 1 that Ukrainian forces have established significant defensive positions near Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut). Yevlash stated that Ukrainian forces began to prepare Chasiv Yar for defense immediately following the Russian seizure of Bakhmut in May 2023 and that there are several Ukrainian defensive “rings” around the settlement.[37] Yevlash stated that Ukrainian forces have established dozens of squad-sized defensive positions and dozens of platoon-sized defensive positions near Chasiv Yar as well as fortifications and firing points within Chasiv Yar itself.[38] Yevlash also stated that Ukrainian forces have created minefields and other defensive obstacles in the Chasiv Yar area.[39] Available imagery, which ISW will not present or describe in greater detail at this time to preserve Ukrainian operational security, shows that Ukrainian forces have established significant fortifications in a ring shape in the Chasiv Yar area. Yevlash stated that the potential Russian seizure of Chasiv Yar would offer Russian forces routes of advance towards Kostyantynivka (southwest of Chasiv Yar) and that Russian forces’ main operational objective in Donetsk Oblast remains the Kramatorsk-Slovyansk agglomeration (about 35km northwest of Bakhmut).[40] 

Russian forces recently advanced west of Avdiivka amid continued Russian offensive operations in the area on March 1. Geolocated footage published on February 29 indicates that elements of the Russian 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps [AC]) recently advanced to the southeastern outskirts of Orlivka (west of Avdiivka).[41] Additional geolocated footage published on March 1 indicates that elements of the Russian 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Combined Arms Army [CAA], Central Military District [CMD]) recently advanced into eastern Berdychi (northwest of Avdiivka).[42] A Russian milblogger reiterated existing Russian claims that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from Tonenke (west of Avdiivka) and that Russian forces have completely seized Orlivka.[43] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of Russian forces operating in Tonenke or Orlivka. Positional fighting continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka and Semenivka and southwest of Avdiivka near Nevelske and Pervomaiske.[44] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated that Russian forces are intensifying indirect fires and increasing the size of their assault groups up to the size of a ”battalion tactical group” in the Avdiivka direction.[45] Tarnavskyi stated that Russian forces are committing reinforcements to offensive operations in the Avdiivka area and acknowledged that Russian forces have recently achieved unspecified localized successes.[46]

autonomous car thesis

Russian forces recently advanced southwest of Donetsk City amid continued positional fighting west and southwest of Donetsk City on March 1. Geolocated footage published on March 1 indicates that elements of the Russian 39th Motorized Rifle Brigade (68th AC, Eastern Military District [EMD]) recently made a marginal advance in southern Novomykhailivka (southwest of Donetsk City).[47] Additional geolocated footage published on March 1 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced east of Pobieda (southwest of Donetsk City).[48] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continued to operate on the southern outskirts of Krasnohorivka (west of Donetsk City), although Ukrainian military officials stated that Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces out of Krasnohorivka on February 27.[49] Positional fighting continued west of Donetsk City near Krasnohorivka and Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[50] Elements of the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) are reportedly operating near Novomykhailivka, and elements of the 238th Artillery Brigade (8th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating near Krasnohorivka.[51]

autonomous car thesis

Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on March 1. Positional fighting occurred southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Novodonetske and Zolota Nyva; south of Velyka Novosilka near Urozhaine; and southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Marfopil, Shevchenko, and Malynivka.[52] Elements of the 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] and EMD) are reportedly operating near Malynivka.[53]

autonomous car thesis

Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)

Positional engagements continued in western Zaporizhia Oblast on March 1, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued near Robotyne.[54] A Russian milblogger claimed that destruction within Robotyne is making it difficult for Russian forces to establish a foothold and that Russian forces have to routinely maneuver within a contested ”gray zone” in the settlement.[55] Elements of the Russian 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating near Robotyne.[56]

autonomous car thesis

Positional engagements continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast near Krynky on March 1.[57] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are trying to clear the area near Krynky.[58]

autonomous car thesis

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a series of strikes against Russian targets near Sevastopol, Yevpatoria, Saky, and Simferopol in occupied Crimea.[59] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces shot down up to ten unspecified air targets.[60]

Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign  (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)

The Ukrainian Air Force reported on March 1 that Russian forces launched five S-300 missiles from Belgorod Oblast and occupied Donetsk Oblast and four Shahed-136/131 drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai at Ukraine on the night of February 29 to March 1.[61] The Ukrainian Air Force stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed all four Shaheds over Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts. Kostyantynivka City Military Administration Head Serhii Horbunov stated that Russian forces struck administrative and infrastructure facilities in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk Oblast with four S-300 missiles.[62]

Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts  (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian authorities will likely use annual combat training for Russian reservists to support crypto-mobilization efforts. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the annual decree on conscripting Russian reservists for military training in 2024.[63] Russian reservists in the Russian armed forces, Rosgvardia, Ministry of Emergency Situations, Federal Security Service (FSB), and other state security agencies will undergo combat training.[64] Russian citizens who have previously been conscripted into the Russian military are considered reservists. Russian authorities will likely use this mandatory combat training to try to recruit Russian reservists through ongoing crypto-mobilization efforts that offer incentives for signing military contracts.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) significantly increased artillery ammunition production in 2023 and will likely continue to increase in 2024.[65] The UK MoD stated that Russian munitions production will likely peak in “the next 12 months due to capacity restraints.” The UK MoD stated that the increased Russian DIB output is due to Russian efforts to refurbish and modernize existing materiel rather than produce new materiel and noted that the “vast majority” of Russian tanks “produced” in 2023 were refurbished. The UK MoD assessed that the Russian DIB is unable to meet the demands of the Russian military but is “certainly capable” of maintaining a material advantage over Ukraine in 2024.

Russian Technological Adaptations  (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 1 that Russian forces conducted a successful combat training launch of the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV).[66] Putin emphasized during his address to the Federal Assembly on February 29 that Russia possesses weapons that can strike Western countries.[67] ISW continues to assess that the Kremlin frequently uses nuclear saber-rattling to instill fear in Western audiences and weaken Western support for Ukraine and that Russian nuclear use in Ukraine and beyond is highly unlikely.[68]

Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts  (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)

Note: ISW will be publishing its coverage of Ukrainian defense industrial efforts on a weekly basis in the Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment. ISW will continue to track developments in Ukrainian defense industrial efforts daily and will refer to these efforts in assessments within the daily Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment and other ISW products when necessary.

ISW is not publishing coverage of Ukrainian defense industrial efforts today.

Activities in Russian-occupied areas  (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)

Note: ISW will be publishing coverage of activities in Russian-occupied areas twice a week in the Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment. ISW will continue to track activities in Russian-occupied areas daily and will refer to these activities in assessments within the daily Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment and other ISW products when necessary.

ISW is not publishing coverage of activities in Russian-occupied areas today.

Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that Russian First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko and former assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin Vladislav Surkov are involved in an ongoing Russian information campaign aimed at demoralizing Ukrainian society called “Maidan-3.”[69] Yusov stated on February 29 that Russia is purchasing Telegram channels and other social network pages and attempting to attract unspecified influential individuals to spread disinformation that delegitimizes Ukrainian government decisions.[70]

Kremlin officials continue attempts to deter Western states from sending military aid to Ukraine. Kremlin officials seized on an audio recording allegedly of a conversation between German military personnel to accuse Germany of planning a strike on the Kerch Strait Bridge.[71] Kremlin newswire  TASS  and veteran Russian propagandist and  RT  editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan posted a transcript of the alleged German audio, wherein the alleged German military personnel discuss how much training and preparation the German military would need to provide should Germany decide to supply Ukraine with Taurus missiles, and should Ukraine decide to conduct a complicated long-range precision strike on Russian targets like the Kerch Strait Bridge.[72] ISW cannot independently verify the authenticity of the audio recording or transcript. Russian officials routinely intensify their attempts to portray the Western provision of certain systems to Ukraine as significant escalations when those systems are subjects of debate in the West. [73]

Significant activity in Belarus  (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)

Nothing significant to report.

Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.

autonomous car thesis

[1]  https://www.wsj.com/world/russia-ukraine-peace-deal-2022-document-6e12e093

[2]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar020824 ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/67843 ;  https://isw.pub/UkrWar121423

[3]  https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/05/09/ukraine-military-2014-russia-us-tra... https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/03/03/ukraines-mi...

[4]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar013124

[5]  https://www.wsj.com/world/russia-ukraine-peace-deal-2022-document-6e12e093

[6]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar121423

[7]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar112723 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar122722 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar12232022 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign... ;  https://isw.pub/UkrWar110423 ; https://understandingwar.org/background...

[8]  https://www.wsj.com/world/russia-ukraine-peace-deal-2022-document-6e12e093

[9]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar022224 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar122823 ; https:... https://isw.pub/UkrWar121523 ; https:/isw.pub/UkrWar121623 ; https:/isw.pub/UkrWar121023 ; https:/isw.pub/UkrWar121323

[10]  https://t.me/tass_agency/234304

[11]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar022924 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgr...

[12]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar021024 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar012624 ; https:...

[13]  http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73585

[14]  https://t.me/epoddubny/19235 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7300 ; https://t...

[15]  http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73585

[16]  https://t.me/dva_majors/35552

[17]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar100723 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar081023 ; https:...

[20]  https://t.me/sovfedofficial/5635 ; https://t.me/MID_Russia/35770?single

[21]  https://t.me/rybar/57768

[22]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar022824

[23]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar022824 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar022724 ; https:...

[24]  https://t.me/V_Zelenskiy_official/9629 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/03/01/niderlandy-nadayut-ukrayini-vijskovu-dopomogu-na-2-mlrd-yevro-u-2024-roczi-ta-prodovzhat-oboronnu-pidtrymku-10-rokiv/ ;  https://www.defensie dot nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/02/23/nederland-sluit-10-jarige-veiligheidsovereenkomst-met-oekraine

[25]  https://t.me/V_Zelenskiy_official/9629 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/03/01/niderlandy-nadayut-ukrayini-vijskovu-dopomogu-na-2-mlrd-yevro-u-2024-roczi-ta-prodovzhat-oboronnu-pidtrymku-10-rokiv/

[26]  https://t.me/V_Zelenskiy_official/9629 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/03/01/niderlandy-nadayut-ukrayini-vijskovu-dopomogu-na-2-mlrd-yevro-u-2024-roczi-ta-prodovzhat-oboronnu-pidtrymku-10-rokiv/

[27]  https://www.defensie dot nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/03/01/nederland-doneert-vaartuigen-aan-oekraine ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/03/01/niderlandy-vyrishyly-nadaty-ukrayini-shvydkisni-ta-manevreni-sudna/

[28]  https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/dutch-give-100-million-euros-czech-... https://www.defensie dot nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/03/01/nederland-doneert-vaartuigen-aan-oekraine

[29]  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf... ;  https://t.me/mod_russia/36185 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0257PgqWwtkKBNjrncQq... ;

[30]  https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114989 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/117455

[31]  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-winter-spring-2024...

[32]  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-winter-spring-2024...

[33]  https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/8427 ; https://t.me/sons_fatherland/13002

[34]  https://t.me/dva_majors/35528 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18494 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7821 ;  https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7824 ; https://t.me/rybar/57737

[35]  https://t.me/mod_russia/36185 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114970 ; h... https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7821 ;  https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7824 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf... ;  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02LshX7VEAtrsRySHCqY... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0257PgqWwtkKBNjrncQq...

[36]  https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7850 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114969

[37]  https://suspilne dot media/696366-casiv-ar-gotuvali-do-oboroni-vidkoli-vtratili-bahmut-evlas/

[38]  https://suspilne dot media/696366-casiv-ar-gotuvali-do-oboroni-vidkoli-vtratili-bahmut-evlas/

[39]  https://suspilne dot media/696366-casiv-ar-gotuvali-do-oboroni-vidkoli-vtratili-bahmut-evlas/

[40]  https://suspilne dot media/696366-casiv-ar-gotuvali-do-oboroni-vidkoli-vtratili-bahmut-evlas/

[41]  https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4596

[42]  https://t.me/kiber_boroshno/6975; https://t.me/brygada47/505; https://web.telegram.org/a/#?tgaddr=tg%3A%2F%2Fresolve%3Fdomain%3Dcreamy...

[43]  https://t.me/wargonzo/18494

[44]  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0257PgqWwtkKBNjrncQq... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf... ;  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02LshX7VEAtrsRySHCqY...

[45]  https://t.me/otarnavskiy/552

[46]  https://t.me/otarnavskiy/552

[47]  https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4605 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62992 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26167

[48]  https://t.me/rubak33ombr/47; https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1763614196577468886

[49]  https://t.me/multi_XAM/1400 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35528 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26152; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/29/krasnogorivka-perebuvaye-pid-kontrolem-ukrayinskyh-syl/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/29/krasnogorivka-perebuvaye-pid-kontrolem-ukrayinskyh-syl/; https://t.me/ab3army/3699

[50]  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf... ;  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02LshX7VEAtrsRySHCqY... https://t.me/wargonzo/18494

[51]  https://t.me/nm_dnr/11862 ; https://t.me/nm_dnr/11863 ;  https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62993  (Krasnohorivka) ;  https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114959 ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/8424  (Novomykhailivka)

[52]  https://t.me/mod_russia/36186 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36182 ; http... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0257PgqWwtkKBNjrncQq...

[53]  https://t.me/voin_dv/7302

[54]  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf...

[55]  https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7831

[56]  https://t.me/dva_majors/35520 ; https://t.me/CBOih/815

[57]  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04r6xiNBcD46ZzT483xf...

[58]  https://t.me/wargonzo/18494

[59]  https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62991 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/117462 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114998 ;  https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114999 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/117462

[60]  https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62991; https://t.me/dva_majors/35561; https://t...

[61]  https://t.me/kpszsu/11291

[62]  https://suspilne dot media/695942-armia-rf-vdarila-po-kostantinivci-cotirma-raketami-mva/

[63]  https://t.me/tass_agency/234368 ; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61493 ; http://publication dot ; pravo.gov.ru/document/0001202403010014 ; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/17829

[64]  https://t.me/tass_agency/234370

[65]  https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1763510541518021033

[66]  https://t.me/mod_russia/36191 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36192 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36196

[67]  https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...

[68]  https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...

[69]  https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/03/01/u-gur-prokomentuvaly-prizvyshha-zi-spysku-uchasnykiv-speczoperacziyi-majdan-3/

[70]  https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...

[71]  https://t.me/tass_agency/234274 ; https://t.me/MID_Russia/35779 ;  https://t.me/tass_agency/234297 ; https://t.me/medvedev_telegram/457 ...

[72]  https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/20129859;  https://vk dot com/@m_s_simonyan-rasshifrovka-razgovora-vysokopostavlennyh-oficerov-bundesver

[73]  https://isw.pub/UkrWar010623 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar122822 ;

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