Weekly Roundup 1/3/18

China’s AVIC Wing Loong II drone reportedly conducted successful live fire tests last week. Credit: AVIC

December 25, 2017 – December 31, 2017

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

From remarkable micro drones to giant unmanned submarines, 2017 saw a dizzying number of exciting firsts, breakthroughs, and deals in the world of drones that will have profound implications for many years to come. Our new report, “Drone Year in Review: 2017,” provides a detailed recap of last year’s most significant trendlines and events in both the military and civilian spheres of unmanned systems technology, and offers insights as to what we can expect in 2018 and beyond.


A suspected U.S. drone strike on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border reportedly killed a Haqqani Network commander. According to a source who spoke to Reuters, the strike targeted a vehicle travelling through the Kurram Agency.

The government of Myanmar has dropped charges against two foreign journalists and two local nationals for flying a drone near the parliament building in Naypyitaw. The group faced a variety of charges under Myanmarese aircraft law that could have resulted in lengthy prison sentences. The two foreign journalists, who hail from Singapore and Malaysia, were on assignment for Turkish broadcaster TRT. (Reuters)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the New York Times, Lam Yik Fei and Raymond Zhong describe how China’s booming drone industry was on full display at a recent air show in Wuhan.

At Poynter, Matt Waite, Mickey Osterreicher, and Sally French discuss the possibilities for drone journalism in 2018.

In an interview for Flux podcast, Keller Rinaudo discusses Zipline’s push to make drone deliveries a reality.

The Doğan News Agency explains the role that Batman Air Base plays in Turkey’s drone operations. (Hurriyet Daily News)  

At the East Pendulum, Henri Kenhmann considers what an aircraft model produced by Aviation Industry Corporation of China says about the country’s progress on a stealth fighter drone.  

At Defense News, Charlsy Panzino writes that the U.S. Air Force is on track to retire all MQ-1 Predator drones by mid-2018.

At the Asahi Shimbun, Takateru Doi writes that the U.S. is urging Tokyo to add U.S. military installations to the list of areas where drones are not permitted to fly.

At the National Interest, Kris Osborn considers how the U.S. Army is modernizing its fleet of unmanned ground vehicles.

At Aviation International Online, Mark Huber writes that drone firm Indemnis is aiming to make its drone recovery system available to customers by summer 2018.

At IEEE Spectrum, Jeremy Hsu profiles Nautilus, a California-based startup that is building a cargo seaplane drone.  

Also at IEEE Spectrum, Giuseppe Loianno discusses the University of Pennsylvania’s progress in developing swarms of quadrotor drones.

At the Arms Control Wonk Podcast, Aaron Stein and Adam Rawnsley discuss Iranian drone proliferation.

At sUAS News, Joshua Ziering offers three predictions for the commercial drone industry in 2018.

The European Forum on Armed Drones published a summary of a recent two-day conference on remote warfare.

At Defense One, Marcus Weisgerber looks at how a U.S. military program uses algorithms to help analysts identify objects in drone imagery.

The editors of photo-sharing site Dronestagram compiled a collection of their favorite aerial shots from 2017. (Quartz)

Know Your Drone

Russia’s Simonov Design Bureau is reportedly developing a large turbojet drone that could reach speeds of up to 950 km/h. (iHLS)

In a flight test, an Aviation Industry Corporation of China Wing Loong II strike successfully drone hit five ground targets using five different kinds of missile, a first for the company. (Xinhua) For more on China’s drones, click here.

Power systems maker Ballard unveiled a fuel cell propulsion unit designed specifically for unmanned aircraft. (Windpower Engineering & Development)

Spanish drone maker Quaternium announced that it flew its HYBRiX.20 hybrid fuel-electric multirotor drone for four hours and 40 minutes. (New Atlas)

Drones at Work

The Stanford Blood Center in California has proposed a program to deliver blood by drone to nearby hospitals. (KPIX 5)

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces shot down a drone that it claims was being used by the Armenian military to surveil Azerbaijani positions near the Aghdam District. (Trend News Agency)

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down a Russian-made Orlan-10 drone in the Donetsk region. (Unian)

A team from the University of Washington is preparing to launch a fleet of seaglider undersea drones in Antarctica to collect data on rising sea levels. (The News Tribune)

A couple in Riverside, California have been charged with several offenses after allegedly using a drone to deliver drugs to customers in their neighborhood. (UPI)

The Philadelphia Police Department used a drone to conduct patrols during a large parade on New Year’s Day. (CBS)

Meanwhile, the Singapore Police Force used a drone to monitor the New Year’s countdown at Marina Bay. (The Straits Times)

Police in France have announced a plan to use surveillance drones to combat oyster theft. (The Telegraph)

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office acquired a drone for search and rescue operations. (Drone Life)

Illegal Totoba fishermen in the Gulf of California shot down a conservation drone operated by the Sea Shepherd environmental group. (Associated Press)

The Hamlet Fire Department in Oregon used a drone to locate a missing dog that was stranded on a cliff. (The Daily Astorian)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a $12.8 million contract modification for high-definition payloads for the RQ-5 Hunter drone. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Composite Engineering a $93 million contract for the Advanced Subscale Aerial Platform target drone. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $255.3 million contract modification for three MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones. (DoD)

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $328.8 million contract for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper support and services. (UPI)

NV5 Global, a construction engineering firm, acquired Skyscene, a San Diego-based provider of drone services. (Unmanned Aerial)

Construction firm Komatsu has partnered with NVIDIA to use drones and artificial intelligence to improve safety on jobsites. (ForConstructionPros.com)

WhiteFox Defense Technologies, a California-based counter-drone technology startup, closed a $2 million seed funding round led by Serra Ventures. (Press Release)

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