Ukraine uses the Steam Deck to control machine guns against Russia

Ukrainian soldiers are using consoles Steam Deck to remotely control turrets where you can mount from machine guns to assault rifles. This control system from portable video game consoles is part of a project called ‘Sabre’, financed by crowdfunding when Russia invaded Ukraine for the first time in 2014.

The War in Ukraine continues on the ground and in cyberspace. Dead, injured and displaced are counted by tens of thousands of people involved in an illegal and unjust invasion that also has repercussions on the global economy and delays the expected recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. With far fewer means than the Russian aggressor, despite international aid, Ukrainian soldiers are finding “creative” solutions to combat the invasion.

The Steam Deck has been a shock to the portable gaming machine segment, but it was not expected that it would also be used as a ‘weapon’ in a war. The Ukrainian news outlet TPO Media has reported on its Facebook page the deployment of a new version of the ‘Sabre’ system, now controlled by Valve’s handheld console.

Saber allows soldiers to fight the enemy from a distance, with turrets placed at checkpoints and other strategic locations. It can handle a large number of calibers, from light machine guns or heavier anti-tank shells to AK-47 assault rifles. They use solenoid triggers for remote firing, have new optics on the front, and are controlled via Steam Decks.

This type of automated turrets are not new and have been seen in Korea or Israel, with a program smart shooter which uses artificial intelligence and dedicated drivers. Obviously, the great advantage of all of them is to be able to avoid enemy fire and thus “to save lives since the soldiers will not be so exposed to fire”they explain.

Another curiosity of this project is that it was born through crowdfunding. A method used by Ukraine to finance anything from buying drones to building hospitals. One of the most popular funding websites is The People’s Project and that’s where Saber was born in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea. The system has been expanding in the number of deployments, improving with more advanced optics and with the Steam Deck as a control device. We would never have thought of it, but the budget is compelling and it is much cheaper than using specialized military controllers.

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