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Simon Anholt has worked closely with heads of governments in countries ranging from the Netherlands to Botswana, from Jamaica to Malaysia. In his home country of the United Kingdom, he is a member of the Foreign Office Public Diplomacy Board and he frequently collaborates with multilateral institutions like the United Nations.
As a researcher, Anholt creates international surveys that inform policy. His latest project, The Good Country Index, is the first to measure exactly how much each country contributes to the planet and to humanity. He hopes this “national balance sheet” will inspire governments to operate less like independent islands and to think of themselves as highly interconnected, with ultimate responsiblity to all the citizens of the world.
“The only remaining superpower is international public opinion,” says Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who has helped more than 50 countries engage more productively with the rest of the world. He believes that public opinion cannot be shifted on the surface, but only moves when a government makes real changes in its values and behavior by rolling out enlightened policies, developing dynamic exchanges with other nations and committing to global betterment.
It’s an unexpected side effect of globalization: problems that once would have stayed local—say, a bank lending out too much money—now have consequences worldwide. But still, countries operate independently, as if alone on the planet. Policy advisor Simon Anholt has dreamed up an unusual scale to get governments thinking outwardly: The Good Country Index. In a riveting and funny talk, he answers the question, “Which country does the most good?” The answer may surprise you (especially if you live in the US or China).
Simon Anholt helps national, regional and city governments earn better reputations—not by launching advertising or PR campaigns, but by changing the way they behave.
BY JORDAN GOLSON
Improvised explosive devices, mines, and other kinds of roadside bombs are a major threat to U.S. troops serving overseas. That may be about to change, and not just because we’re pulling out of Afghanistan.
U.S. defense contractor Oshkosh Defense already keeps soldiers away from harm with the M-ATV, an armored vehicle specially designed to resist blasts from IEDs and mines. Even better, it detects explosives using special ground penetrating radar and a 12-wheeled mineroller which attaches to the front of the M-ATV.
But that’s not quite good enough: Oshkosh wants to move soldiers even further from the danger zone by putting them in another vehicle entirely and making the minesweeping truck drive itself. Minesweeping is a “very dangerous job where unmanned ground vehicle technology could have a big payoff in saving lives,” says John Beck, head engineer for Oshkosh’s Unmanned Systems group.
The company has spent a decade developing an autonomous driving technology called TerraMax, which can be applied to vehicles already on the road. You may recognize it from Top Gear, where it was installed on Oshkosh’s six-wheeled cargo truck, the MTVR MK25A1. TerraMax came to life in 2004 as a competitor in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 150-mile race across the California desert designed to spur development of autonomous vehicles. It did well in the great robot race and has since evolved into a more advanced and versatile platform.
It’s now equipped with radar and LIDAR, which uses lasers to detect nearby objects, along with a drive-by-wire system that electronically controls engine speed, transmission, braking, and steering. The system does more than steer and hit the throttle and brakes. It can intelligently control a central tire inflation system and driveline locks to navigate deep sand or mud, all without any input from the operator.
TerraMax works pretty much like the self-driving cars Google and others are developing for civilian use, adapted for use in much tougher conditions. Google can carefully map roads before its vehicle ever tackles them on its own. The big automakers can make their vehicles recognize lane markings and speed limit signs. Oshkosh doesn’t have those advantages. So it made TerraMax capable of combining overhead imagery from satellites and planes with standard military maps generated through geographic information systems. That lets where soldiers define roads and other obstacles, much like with a commercial GPS system.
Once given a defined course, either through waypoints along a route or with just a final destination, the vehicles can navigate themselves. Operators can set things like vehicle speed and following distance. They have access to a live map of the entire convoy and receive diagnostic reports on vehicles.
These aren’t entirely autonomous vehicles, at least not yet. If they reach an impasse of some kind, they can alert an operator farther back in the convoy and ask what to do. One operator can monitor up to five vehicles, Oshkosh says, a number chosen through warfighter feedback. Even with that limit, TerraMax achieves two objectives. It allows the military to move more cargo with fewer personnel. And it makes a convoy look like it’s carrying more personnel than it really is, which could discourage an enemy from attacking.
Oshkosh’s unmanned vehicle technology is still in testing, but the company has spent the last three years working with the Marine Corp Warfighting Lab and the Office of Naval Research to get it ready for the battlefield. It’s not the only military-grade autonomous technology in development. Lockheed Martin is working on something it calls the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System, which also allows for autonomous or semi-autonomous operation in a convoy.
TerraMax can be applied to just about anything that drives, though modern vehicles work better because they have more computers to work with. To teach a vehicle to search for roadside bombs instead of simply drive along, Oshkosh just has to change the software.
The defense contractor has developed a new “driver profile” with behaviors unique to minesweeping, which it announced earlier this month. The company has attached TerraMax to its M-ATV armored vehicle platform and reprogrammed it to drive at the front of a convoy, searching for IEDs and land mines rather than simply driving a route. A convoy could have one minesweeper sweeping the left side of the road and another searching the right, keeping everyone else safely behind. “The technology is the same but we’re looking at very different vehicle behaviors,“ head engineer Beck says.
Because TerraMax-equipped vehicles can still be driven by humans, Oshkosh added safety features usually found in luxury sedans, including electronic stability control, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and other advanced driver assist tech.
Though allied forces are drawing down their presence in Afghanistan, Oshkosh’s unmanned ground vehicles will likely be used in conflicts around the world in the years to come. Company representatives gave demonstrations of the technology at Eurosatory 2014, a defense industry trade show, and say they received positive feedback from other nations as well.
Beck says the technology could be applied to tracked and other types of combat vehicles in the future, and be used in civilian settings, like autonomous snow clearing at airports. For now, though, Oshkosh is focusing on military application where it can save lives. That’s where all the early-adopter money is, after all.
Cairo/ bikyamasr: An Islamic cleric based in Europe said that women should not be close to bananas or cucumbers, in order to avoid any “sexual thoughts.”
The unnamed sheikh, who was featured in an article on el-Sawsana news, was quoted saying that if women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as a father or a husband, should cut the items into small pieces and serve them.
He said that these fruits and vegetables “resemble the male penis” and hence could arouse women or make them think of sex.
He also added carrots and zucchini to the list of forbidden foods for women.
The sheikh was asked how to keep an eye on women when they are out grocery shopping and whether holding these items at the market should be banned for them. The cleric answered saying this matter is between them and God.
Answering another question about what to do if women in the family like these kind of food, the sheikh advised that a family male member would take the food and cut it for them in a hidden place so they cannot see it.