Weekly Roundup 4/4/16

The Yuneec Q500. Rival drone maker DJI launched a patent infringement suit against Yuneec on Friday. Credit: Yuneec

The Yuneec Q500. Rival drone maker DJI launched a patent infringement suit against Yuneec on Friday. Credit: Yuneec

3/28/16 – 4/3/16

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News

The U.S. military announced that it carried out a drone strike in Somalia targeting Hassan Ali Dhoore, a senior leader of al-Shabab’s intelligence and security division. According to a statement by Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook, Ali Dhoore was involved in planning attacks against Americans. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Central Command announced that one in five of its drone missions against the Islamic State results in a missile strike. In all, Air Force MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers have participated in one third of all aerial sorties in the campaign against ISIS. (Air Force Times)

In a press conference at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, President Obama acknowledged that the targeted killing campaign has resulted in civilian deaths. “[T]he legal architecture around the use of drone strikes or other kinetic strikes wasn’t as precise as it should have been,” the President said. (USA Today)

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David David Cameron warned delegates at the Nuclear Security Summit that there is a possibility that ISIS militants will use drones to distribute nuclear material over cities in Europe. (The Telegraph)

The Federal Aviation Administration relaxed some rules relating to the operation of unmanned vehicles in domestic airspace. Commercial users will now be permitted to fly up to an altitude of 400 feet and will be able to register their drones online. (The Hill)

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia dropped certain rules for small drones. Commercial operators of drones weighing less than 2 kilograms will no longer be required to obtain a special license. They will, however, still need to notify CASA before flying. (IT News)

Drone company DJI launched a patent infringement lawsuit against Yuneec, another drone maker. The suit, which was filed in California, claims that Yuneec violated DJI patents for interchangeable mounting platforms and target tracking systems. The two China-based drone manufacturers develop small multirotor drones aimed at consumers and professional operators. (The Verge)

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office announced in a statement that a drone was shot down over a neighborhood in Edmond, Oklahoma. According to spokesperson Mark Opgrande, the drone was being used legally by a construction company to inspect gutters. (Fox 25)

North Korean drones have reportedly crossed into South Korean airspace repeatedly in recent weeks. According to media reports, the drones have been spotted on radar along central and western sections of the Military Demarcation Line. (UPI)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

In a podcast at War is Boring, Scott Swanson discusses flying one of the first armed Predator drone missions over Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

At War on the Rocks, Melissa S. Hersh and Douglas A. Ollivant argue that when it comes to drone strikes, “we need to discuss acceptable collateral damage thresholds.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hosted a forum for legislators and aviation and law enforcement officials to discuss the risks posed by drones and lasers to commercial aircraft. (Providence Journal)

In an interview with the Washington Post, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work says the U.S. military will not grant autonomous machines the authority to kill on their own.  

Also at the Washington Post, Matt McFarland takes a look at how airports around the country are using new systems to detect drones near runways.

At CNN, Sarah Kreps examines the rise of China’s drone export market.

At the Evening Sun, Nicole Chynoweth writes that conservation researchers have found that drones can both benefit and harm wildlife.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said that, if elected, he would not rule out using drones to combat terrorism.

At MarketWatch, Sally French argues that pilot reports of drone sightings amount to “drone hysteria.”

At Drone Wars UK, Chris Cole argues that the British Ministry of Defence could be more open in the information that it provides about drone operations.

At the Heritage Foundation, Jason Snead and John-Michael Seibler argue that the regulatory and legal challenges posed by drones are “neither unique nor novel.”

At Small Wars Journal, John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker examine the growing use of drones by Mexican drug cartels.

At iRevolutions, Patrick Meier considers the potential benefits of using drones for disaster response.

At iPolitics, Michael Dawson argues that if Canada acquired military drones, it would become involved in “all manner of military follies.”

The Hive, a project that proposes a skyscraper where drones can dock and charge, won second place in the eVolo 2016 Skyscraper Competition. (DesignBoom)

In an episode of CBS’ “The Good Wife,” a lawsuit emerges after several neighborhood hobby drones get shot down. (Entertainment Weekly)

Know Your Drone

AirMap, a company that creates maps of airspace for drone users, announced a new program that will allow drone operators to transmit location data from their aircraft to air traffic controllers. (Press Release)

A team of researchers from Nanyang Technological University and the University of California, Berkeley has developed a system to remotely control living beetles. The team claims that this technology could eventually be used instead of drones. (Gizmodo)

The U.S. Navy announced that it will soon field its Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets project, which will outfit manned submarines with small drones for reconnaissance and surveillance. (USNI News)

In a collaboration with NASA, Pipeline Research Council International is testing drones mounted with sensors for detecting methane leaks. (Phys.org)

A U.S. Air Force accident investigation found that an MQ-1B Predator drone that crashed in September came down as a result of the drone simultaneously losing its satellite link and flying through a cloud. (Press Release)

Meanwhile, a team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute is developing algorithms that could help drones survive contingencies such as a lost satellite link. (Mass Live)

The U.S. Navy has begun testing the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, a 130-foot drone boat. (Engadget)

German defense company Diehl has unveiled a counter-drone system that uses electromagnetic pulses to bring down small unmanned aircraft. (Press Release)

The U.S. Air Force has announced details about the Loyal Wingman program, a project that will pair fifth generation manned fighter jets with older jets that have been converted into drones. (Flightglobal)

Drones at Work

The Paris police department is looking to deploy small surveillance drones for security operations during this summer’s European Championships soccer tournament. (Independent)

An initiative by the Ethiopian Ministry of Livestock, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency will use drones to drop thousands of sterilized tsetse flies over Ethiopia in a bid to control the disease-spreading insect’s population. (Motherboard)

Following the withdrawal of ISIS forces from Palmyra, a drone was used to capture footage of damage to ancient sites in the Syrian city. (CNN)

Police in Callaway, Minnesota used drones to investigate the scenes of a train derailment and a propane truck accident. (Inforum)

At a workshop in Toronto, artists learned how to fly drones safely. (Motherboard)

Japanese online retailer Rakuten will begin using drones to deliver drinks and balls at a golf course. (PSFK)

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi has obtained permission from the FAA to use drones for operations. (The Natchez Democrat)

The Canadian government is exploring whether drones might be useful in measuring sea ice conditions. (City News)

British accountancy firm HURST is looking to use drones to count stock. (Manchester Evening News)

A Finnish film company attached a chainsaw to a consumer drone for a short video. (YouTube)

Industry Intel

Four companies have split from the Small UAV Coalition, a national network of drone manufacturers. The companies—DJI, Parrot, GoPro and 3D Robotics—have decided to form a new group that focuses on the consumer drone sector. (USA Today)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded four companies Phase 1 contracts for the Gremlins program, which seeks to develop autonomous, retrievable miniature unmanned air vehicles. (Press Release)

Rockwell Collins was selected to provide micro inertial navigation sensors for Brazil’s FT Sistemas FT200FH unmanned helicopter. (Press Release)

The Qatar Armed Forces reportedly awarded German UAV manufacturer Reiner Stemme Utility Air-Systems a $100 million contract for aircraft systems. It also awarded L-3 Communications, Thales, and Textron Systems contracts for a variety of drone equipment and payloads. (Doha News)

Drone Aviation Holding Corp. was awarded a $194,000 contract to upgrade payload and communication systems onboard the Winch Aerostat Small Platform (WASP) systems. (Press Release)

Drone software company Airware is dedicating $30 million in Series C funding to focus on selling drone kits, including software and cloud data storage, to Fortune 500 companies. Its first customer is insurance company State Farm. (TechCrunch)

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