Weekly Roundup 4/23/18

The IAEA conducted a successful test of using a drone to counter disease-transmitting mosquitoes. Photo: WeRobotics

April 16, 2018 – April 22, 2018

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At the Center

In an interview with Sean Burke on WSMN 1590, Center for the Study of the Drone co-director Arthur Holland Michel discusses lethal autonomous weapons, ghost ships, and a very special drone in the National Air and Space Museum.

Top Stories

The Trump administration has loosened rules governing the export of U.S.-made drones. The updated policy makes it easier for U.S. defense contractors to sell drones directly to foreign nations and relaxes restrictions for certain drone-based technologies like laser designators. In a conference with reporters, Trump administration official Peter Navarro said that the new rules would increase American competitiveness in the international market for military drones. (New York Times)

Saudi Arabia has placed new interim restrictions on drone hobbyists after a hobby drone was shot down by security forces in Riyadh last week. The Interior Ministry has required hobbyists to obtain permission before each flight until drone regulations are finalized. (Reuters)

The International Air Transport Association, an alliance of commercial airliners, announced its support for a United Nations-led global drone registry. The effort would be led by the International Civil Aviation Organization and would create a single registry for both manned and unmanned aircraft. (Reuters)

Know Your Drone

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems demonstrated an autonomous deck handling system for its prototype drone for the Navy’s carrier-based MQ-25 Stingray competition. (FlightGlobal)

DJI and camera maker Zenmuse unveiled the XT2, a thermal imaging sensor designed for small multirotor drones. (TechRadar)

The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations have tested a drone that disperses sterile mosquitoes to curb the spread of mosquito-borne disease. (World Nuclear News)

Startup Westwell has developed a driverless truck for use in port container terminals. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Ukrainian firm Ukrspecsystems has developed a loitering munition, the RAM, that carries a 3 kg explosive payload. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, Ukrspecsystems also unveiled a vertical take-off and landing variant of its PD-1 surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (Jane’s)

A team at EPFL has developed a bodysuit that enables users to control drones with their arms and torso. (IEEE Spectrum)

The Czech Ministry of Defence is seeking to develop a vertical take-off and landing drone for the Army of the Czech Republic. (Jane’s)

U.S. firms Exyn Technologies and Velodyne LiDAR have partnered to develop an autonomous indoor multirotor drone. (Press Release)

The Italian Directorate of Air Armaments and Airworthiness has authorized the Leonardo Mirach-40 target drone for operational military use. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Swift Navigation unveiled Skylark, a cloud-based GNSS navigation system for unmanned aircraft. (Press Release)

Malaysian firm DRB-HICOM Defence Technologies unveiled a scale model of its Aludra Camar surveillance drone, which will have a wingspan of 4 meters. (Jane’s)

Drones at Work

Japan’s Defense Ministry scrambled fighter jets in response to an unidentified aircraft that it believes was a Chinese drone flying over the Senkaku Islands. (NHK) For more on drones over Senkaku, click here.

Following an investigation, the U.K. Airprox Board assigned its highest risk rating to a close encounter between a commercial jet and a drone near Heathrow Airport in January. (CNET)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted a beyond visual line-of-sight waiver to Xcel Energy, the first U.S. utility to receive such a permission for inspections. (Drone Life)

Police in Colombia are looking into the idea of using drones to spray herbicide over illegal coca plantations. (ABC News)

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen announced that Houthi fighters used surveillance and strike drones in at least three unsuccessful attacks in the last week alone. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, police in Riyadh reportedly short down a small drone that was being operated over the city. (Bloomberg)

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are using drones to track macaques in Borneo as part of an effort to control the spread of a strain of malaria. (The Guardian)

The Fremont Police Department in California used a drone to track a fleeing suspect who was thought to be armed. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Chinese media reports suggest that China is set to unveil new regulations for drones in June. (Unmanned Air Space)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon an $83.3 million contract for the Barracuda, an expendable underwater drone designed to neutralize sea mines. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems a $4.03 million contract for the BQM-177A Subsonic Aerial Target drone. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu a $17.8 million contract for interim contractor logistics support services for the U.S. Marine Corps’ RQ-21A Blackjack drone. (FBO)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Dynetics a $32.5 million contract for work on Phase III of the Gremlins drone swarm project. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded seven companies an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a $248.5 million ceiling for work supporting the Family of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded AeroVironment a $44.7 million contract for the Switchblade loitering munition. (DoD)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $250 million contract for unmanned aircraft operations and maintenance support services. (FBO)

The Korean Air Aerospace Division has partnered with Malaysia’s DRB-Hicom Defense Technologies to develop drones for the Malaysian Armed Forces. (Jane’s)

At a defense fair in Malaysia, Turkish Aerospace Industries marketed the TAI Anka drone to potential customers in Southeast Asia. (Jane’s)

Swiss drone company Flyability announced that France’s RAID law enforcement division has acquired the Elios drone for indoor reconnaissance. (Shephard Media)

Consumer drone maker DJI has partnered with Swiss firm Syngenta AG to develop crop spraying drones. (Caixin Global)

Cyberhawk, a drone inspection and surveying company, announced that it has been selected by an unnamed oil and gas firm to provide a drone-based assessment of the construction of a petrochemical complex in the U.S. (UAS Weekly)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the Washington Post, Michael C. Horowitz and Joshua A. Schwartz summarize the Trump administration’s new drone export policy.

At Defense One, Herbert Carlisle argues that the Trump administration should now address the international agreements governing missile and drone exports.

Members of the European Forum on Armed Drones offered their reactions to the Trump administration’s change in drone export policy.

At the New York Times, Eric Schmitt takes a closer look at the U.S. Air Force’s progress on the construction of a new drone base in Niger.

At the Heritage Foundation, John-Michael Seibler and Jason Snead argue that local communities have a role in setting drone regulations.

A report by Amnesty International probes the role of various E.U. countries in U.S. drone strikes. (The Guardian)

A report by Jack Serle reflects on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s years-long project to track U.S. drone strikes.

In an Aviation Week podcast, Joe Anselmo, Jen DiMascio, and James Drew discuss the merits of the three proposed designs for the Navy’s planned MQ-25 tanker drone.

At Market Watch, Sally French writes that Apple has acquired counter-drone technology after a series of popular aerial videos of its new headquarters.

Finnish nature photographer Jani Ylinampa used a drone to photograph the changing seasons in Lapland, Finland. (The Guardian)

Japanese drone pilot Katsu FPV filmed a single-take indoor video of a high school in Japan using a micro drone. (Fstoppers)

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