Weekly Roundup 4/10/17

Verizon and American Aerospace Technologies tested a drone designed to provide network coverage in emergencies. Credit: Verizon

April 3, 2017 – April 9, 2017

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Public Safety Drones

Police and first responder drones were once a sci-fi fantasy; now they are a reality, appearing with increasing frequency in cities and towns throughout the U.S. In a new study, we have identified nearly 350 police, sheriff, fire, and other public safety agencies in 43 states that have acquired drones in recent years. These drones provide users with a range of opportunities to carry out their missions more safely and effectively than by other means, but they also raise concerns about surveillance and safety.

News

The U.S. military carried out at least 20 air strikes in Yemen in early April. According to a statement by the Department of Defense, the majority of the strikes were carried out by drones targeting members of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. (Long War Journal)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has banned private and commercial drone operators from flying over 133 military facilities around the country. The restrictions were enacted at the request of the Department of Defense and other U.S. security agencies. (Associated Press)

The U.K. has suspended its campaign of drone strikes against the Islamic State. According to data released by the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Air Force has not conducted any strikes with its MQ-9 Reapers in the past month. The Reapers continue to serve in a reconnaissance and surveillance role. (IHS Jane’s 360)

The U.S. Air Force awarded URS Federal Services a $3.6 billion contract for remotely piloted aircraft services. The Maryland-based company will provide support for testing and training for drone operations in Nevada. The contract, one of the largest drone-related deals in recent years, will stand through 2034. (UPI)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Bloomberg, Justin Bachman examines our data on police drone acquisitions, and considers whether law enforcement agencies might one day deploy armed drones.

At BBC News, Chief Constable Jeff Farrar discusses the role that artificial intelligence and drones will play in the future of policing.

A report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Customs and Border Protection agency could continue to do better to integrate its drones into border security operations. (GAO)

At DefenseNews, Jill Aitoro looks at how the U.S. Air Force is training its drone pilots to fly in collaboration with manned aircraft.

Also at DefenseNews, Aaron Mehta writes that the U.S. Strategic Command has issued a new policy for defending U.S. nuclear sites against drones.

At War on the Rocks, Andy Macak and Benjamin Jensen consider historical examples of manned-unmanned teaming.

At Stars and Stripes, Chris Church speaks with military drone operators who are tasked with taking off and landing the aircraft.  

At Buzzfeed News, Nancy A. Youssef writes that U.S. officials suspect that a Russian drone may have been at the scene of the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

At Wired, Adam Rawnsley looks at how militants in Yemen are using drones to disable multi-million dollar anti-ballistic missile systems.

At the Drive, Joseph Trevithick writes that the U.S. military is still training Ukrainian soldiers to fly the RQ-11B Raven drone in spite of reports that Ukraine has ceased using the drone in the field.

At the Strategy Bridge, Elsa B. Kania looks at how China’s military seeks to gain a technological advantage over the U.S. through investment in drones and artificial intelligence.

The Ask DroneU podcast offers advice to drone owners who wish to travel with their drones. (Soundcloud)

At the Drone Radio Show podcast, David Oneal and Sarah Oneal discuss the making of “The Drone Invasion,” a forthcoming documentary about domestic drones. (Soundcloud)

At the Caller-Times, Dr. David Niesel and Dr. Norbert Herzog argue that drones that deliver medical supplies will save lives.

At IoT Agenda, Phil Marshall examines the role that LTE cellular technology could play in enabling autonomous drone operations.

At CNBC, Ryan Brown writes that police in the U.K. are receiving a growing number of complaints about drones.

At The Traverse City Record-Eagle, Dan Nielsen profiles Interactive Aerial, a company developing drones for indoor use.

Director Paul Trillo paired with drone company Aerobo to make a short, one-shot film using a drone. (Drone360)

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is soliciting proposals for small unmanned aircraft with advanced sensors capable of facial recognition. (The Verge)

Beihang University in Beijing is reportedly developing a strike-capable reconnaissance drone that it plans to launch in 2018. (IHS Jane’s 360)

A scale model of the the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency LightningStrike vertical take-off and landing drone completed its first round of test flights. (TechCrunch)

Prox Dynamics is developing a new nano drone that will be about twice the size of its predecessor, the PD-100 Black Hornet. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Japanese camera maker Canon and drone maker Prodrone have unveiled a large multirotor drone designed for search and rescue missions. (Digital Trends)  

U.S. aerospace firm Aurora Flight Sciences is building an improved version of its Orion, a high-altitude, long-endurance drone. (Aviation Week)

Technology firms Fenix Group and Martin UAV have unveiled a sub-55-pound drone capable of providing 4G cellular service. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Meanwhile, telecom firm Verizon is testing a 17-foot wingspan drone that could provide wireless coverage during natural disasters. (Fox News)  

Amazon has been awarded a patent for a parachute-based damage-avoidance system for drones based on a system it uses for its Blue Origin rockets. (Puget Sound Business Journal)

Canadian startup SkyX unveiled the SkyOne, a industrial fixed-wing drone that can land and take off vertically. (TechCrunch)

Defense One rounds up the most interesting drones on show at the recent Navy League Sea, Air & Space conference.

The U.S. Navy has approved the Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle for accelerated acquisition so that it can be deployed by 2019. (Defense Systems)

Unconfirmed leaked photographs appear to show a new small consumer drone being developed by DJI called Spark. (TechCrunch) Robotics firm ST Kinetics has announced that its Jaeger 6 family of unmanned ground vehicles are now ready for sale. (Shephard Media)

The Drone Racing League unveiled a new, faster racing quadcopter, the Racer3. (The Verge)

Defense firm Thales is actively marketing its SpyRanger small reconnaissance drone to several countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (IHS Jane’s 360)

The U.S. Navy announced that it is pursuing a concept for collaborative swarming intelligence collection drones called Motley Crew. (Defense Tech)

The U.S. Navy completed a round of test flights of a new variant of its MQ-4C Triton. (UPI)

Drones at Work

Boston public safety officials will deploy a PARC tethered surveillance drone at the starting line of this year’s Boston Marathon. (Boston Herald)

The South Korean military is planning to deploy 10 surveillance drones to monitor North Korean forces. (Yonhap News Agency)

Defense contractor Rafael’s Drone Dome counter-drone system is reportedly operational in an unnamed Asian country. (Shephard Media)

The Seattle Police Department is reportedly investigating a 19-year-old who crashed a drone into the Space Needle for causing a “substantial risk of death or serious physical injury.” (KIRO 7)

Workers building the Xingkang Bridge in China used a drone to tow pilot cables across a river. (Daily Mail)

Bavarian police are investigating a case in which two men reportedly flew a drone over a sunbather on her rooftop. (DW)

Police in Redwood City, California issued an arrest warrant for a 55-year-old drone operator who allegedly interfered with a rescue operation. (Fox 2)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded Leidos, AASKI Technologies, and AAI Corp/Textron a shared $900 million contract for technical services and field support for the Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Product Office. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Textron a $14.8 million contract for two fourth-generation Common Unmanned Surface Vehicles. Textron will deliver the systems by 2018. (Marine Technology News)  

The U.S. Navy awarded Pacific Tugboat Service a $669,000 contract for a launch and recovery platform for an unmanned undersea vehicle. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded HX5 a contract for an small unmanned air system airframe. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Composite Engineering a $1.5 million contract for contractor logistics and support for unmanned aerial targets. (FBO)

Rajant will supply Sharp Electronics with the Kinetic Mesh wireless technology for the Sharp Intellos unmanned ground vehicle. (Shephard Media)

L3 Technologies acquired OpenServer Technology, an unmanned undersea vehicle company. (Shephard Media)  

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