Weekly Roundup 6/17

Pakistan launched a military offensive last week in North Waziristan, the restive tribal territory held by the Taliban. Credit: Shakil Adil, AP

Pakistan launched a military offensive last week in North Waziristan, the restive tribal territory held by the Taliban. Credit: Shakil Adil, AP

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News

At least 10 suspected militants were reportedly killed in two separate U.S. drone strikes near the town of Miram Shah in northwestern Pakistan. The strikes, which took place seven hours apart, targeted a base belonging to the Haqqani network, which was associated with the capture of the recently-released U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Following the strikes, which were the first in Pakistan in nearly six months, Pakistan launched a major military operation in the area. (New York Times)

For more on the lull in drone strikes, click here.

Five militants were reportedly killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen. The strike targeted a vehicle travelling in the southern Shabwa province. According to local sources who spoke to the Associated Press, one of the dead was Musaad al-Habashi, a commander for al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. (ABC News)

In an interview with Yahoo! News’ Katie Couric, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Obama is considering drone strikes as a potential option to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which is carrying out an offensive push in northern Iraq. “The President is evaluating a very thorough vetting of every option that is available to us,” said Kerry.

Meanwhile, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, over the past year, the United States has flown drones over Iraq to collect intelligence. According to unnamed U.S. officials who spoke with the Journal, the program, which was limited to surveillance missions, was carried out with the consent of the Iraqi government.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a permit for British Petroleum to operate drones over oil fields in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the first approved commercial use of drones over land. BP, which spent over a year experimenting with drones, will use Aerovironment’s Puma AE drone to survey pipelines, roads and equipment. (USA Today)

FIFA is investigating the French national team’s claim that a drone was used to spy on one of its training sessions. “Apparently drones are used more and more,” Didier Deschamps, the manager of Les Bleus, said at a news conference. (ESPN)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

In the wake of growing strife in northern Iraq, Dan Lamothe at the Washington Post considers the support among U.S. lawmakers for American drone strikes against the ISIS.

Meanwhile, at Defense One, Patrick Tucker weighs the pros and cons of American drone strikes in Iraq.

Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the resumption of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. “Even one wrongful death is one too many,” writes Zeke Johnson, a spokesperson for Amnesty International, who penned the report.

At Wired, Marcus Wohlson writes that Amazon’s aerial delivery plan could only work if the drones were paired with trucks.

At the Independent, Peter Popham reviews the work of photographer Trevor Paglen, specifically his project on the secret sites and programs of the U.S. government.

Blank Rome LLP, an international law firm specializing in businesses law, outlines the current legal standing of commercial drones in the United States.

Travel by Drone is a site that collects aerial videos from around the world, allowing users to explore exotic landscapes from home.

At Politico, Marc Andreessen argues for turning Detroit into “drone valley.”

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Air Force has publicly acknowledged the existence of its RQ-180 stealth surveillance drone program. In December 2013, two Aviation Week reporters revealed the secret drone program, which is being led by Northrop Grumman, but the USAF had declined to comment until now. (War is Boring)

Engineers and architects at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have developed drones that can build bridges out of rope. (New Scientist)

The U.S. Marine Corps announced that it has awarded several contracts for the development of a ground-to-air laser to shoot down surveillance drones (War is Boring)

In a joint project with Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky is working to develop a system for pilotless helicopters to transport driverless cars.

Businessman David Weekly has created a venture capital fund for drone startups. (Tech Crunch)

Drone company 3D Robotics has added a “Follow Me” feature to its autonomous flight software. The program enables the drone to follow a designated Android device wherever it goes. (DIY Drones)

A Kickstarter campaign for an autonomous drone that is designed to film its user engaging in daring action sports raised over three times its funding goal in a single day.

Meanwhile, a company called Domestic Drone Countermeasures has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of a Personal Drone Detection System, which is designed to “keep your privacy safe from your neighbors and people you may not know who are flying small drones near your home or office.”

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