Weekly Roundup 3/19/18

A drone lifts off at the 2016 national drone racing competition in New York. Automaker BMW said last week that it is working on building the world’s fastest racing drone. Credit: Dan Gettinger

March 12, 2018 – March 18, 2018

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Top Stories

Defense News has reported that the Trump administration could release a revised export policy for military drones within weeks. The State Department’s forthcoming update to the 2015 framework for drone exports is expected to make it easier for U.S. defense firms to sell military drones overseas at a time when international competition among makers of sophisticated systems is increasing.

Qatar has placed an order for six Turkish-made Baykar Makina Bayraktar-TB2 strike-capable drones. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, the drones will be delivered to Qatar’s Reconnaissance and Surveillance Center in the “near future.” Qatar, which does not currently possess armed drones, will be Turkey’s first known international customer for strike-capable drones.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration released its annual aerospace forecast, which includes an analysis of trends and predictions for the drone industry. The FAA expects continued growth in the non-hobbyist sector over the next few years and a slower pace of growth in the hobbyist sector. (DroneLife)

Know Your Drone

U.S. firm Yates Electrospace has been granted a patent for networks of airborne cargo delivery drones. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Meanwhile, in a demonstration, the U.S. Marine Corps used a swarm of small delivery drones to transport supplies to soldiers in the field. (Jane’s)

Undersea drone maker Hydroid unveiled the Remus M3V, a portable unmanned submarine. (AUVSI)

A team from the Soft Robotics Research Center at Seoul National University is developing an origami-like foldable arm that allows aerial drones to pick up objects from the ground. (The Verge)

Walmart has been granted a patent for a system to pollinate flowers using drones. (USA Today)

The U.S. Army has issued a Sources Sought Announcement for the development of collision avoidance algorithms for the Soldier Borne Sensor small drone program. (FBO)

The U.S. Marine Corps issued a request for information for a program to develop a large vertical take-off and landing drone for intelligence, electronic warfare, and fire support. (Military and Aerospace Electronics)

Automaker BMW is working with the Drone Racing League to develop the world’s fastest racing drone. (Engadget)

Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a quadruped robot that choreographs its own dances based on music in its environment. (Futurism)

Drones at Work

Employees at U.S. rail firm Union Pacific have complained about a company program that employs drones to monitor workers for safety violations. (Wall Street Journal)

Firefighters in Sedona, Arizona used a drone to help rescue a cyclist who was stranded in a remote area. (Red Rock News)

Officials in the U.K. are using drones to keep an eye out for arsonists who start fires in grasslands in south Wales. (BBC)

Satellite images analyzed by Bellingcat appear to show that Iran has expanded its airfield for surveillance drones on Qeshm island.

The Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota has acquired a drone for a range of operations. (Pipestone County Star)

The Israel Defense Force has reportedly used a drone to drop tear gas on protesters in the Gaza Strip. (Times of Israel)

Chris Long, a professional football player with the Philadelphia Eagles, revealed that he also works as a professional drone pilot. (Philly Voice)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Department of Interior awarded BirdsEyeView Aerobotics a $620,270 contract for 50 new fixed-wing and vertical take-off and landing drones. (Unmanned-Aerial.com)

The U.S. Department of Interior awarded Mishigami Group a $5,899 contract for the AeroPoints Ground Control Points system, a surveying tool for drones. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Alion Science and Technology a $13.6 million contract for the development of prototype systems for existing or emerging unmanned vehicles. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Bell Helicopter Textron a $9.9 million contract for three Bell 407 helicopters to support the work on the MQ-8 Fire Scout. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Dedrone a $426,200 contract for a counter-drone system. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded AeroVironment a $9.1 million foreign military sales contract for RQ-20B Puma AE II drones for the government of Egypt. (DoD)

The Philippine Air Force has taken delivery of six Insitu ScanEagle drones from the United States. (Jane’s)

Endeavor Robotics announced that it has received a $9.2 million contract for Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles from the U.S. Marine Corps. (Press Release)

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions announced that it has been granted approval from the U.S. State Department to sell its Mako High-Performance Jet Tactical UAS to foreign customers. (Press Release)

Boeing’s HorizonX is participating in a $15 million funding round for Fortem Technologies, a Utah-based startup that specializes in detect-and-avoid systems for drones. (GeekWire)

Airspace Systems, a counter-drone technology startup, raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Singtel Innov8. (TechCrunch)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Breaking Defense, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. considers how the U.S. Army is seeking both unmanned and optionally-manned combat ground vehicles over the next few years.

At the Wall Street Journal, Andy Pasztor writes that the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, which is set to start later this year, could include commercial drone deliveries.

At War is Boring, Elliot Short considers how the character of warfare may change when robots do most of the fighting.

At the Drive, Tyler Rogoway looks at what Boeing expects to gain from its bid for the Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone refueler program.

At the New Scientist, Niall Firth considers how teams of artificially-intelligent drones and vehicles are contributing to a revolution in Japan’s construction industry.

At Reuters, Nandita Bose and Tom Polansek write that Walmart’s new patent for drone bees underscores the expanded role that drones could play in agriculture.

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