Weekly Roundup 7/2/18

Australia confirmed that it will acquire six MQ-4C Triton drones. Credit: U.S. Navy

June 25, 2018 – July 1, 2018

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Top Stories

Australia confirmed that it will acquire six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones. The drones will be used to complement Australia’s fleet of manned P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. The initial investment is estimated to be $1.03 billion (USD), with a predicted lifetime cost of $5.1 billion. The first aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2023. (Defense News)

Facebook has shut down an effort to build long-endurance, solar-powered drones designed to deliver Internet connectivity to remote areas. In a blog post, the company said that it will continue to explore new technologies for connecting populations. Alphabet cancelled a similar program last year. (IEEE Spectrum)

Thailand has acquired four Elbit Hermes 450 drones from Israel, becoming the second country in Southeast Asia to operate the medium-altitude long-endurance aircraft. The four drones will join the Royal Thai Army’s 21st Aviation Battalion in Lopburi Province. (Aviation International Online)

Russian news agencies have reported that the Russian military shot down an unidentified drone near Hmeimim airbase in Syria. If true, it would be the third time this year that unidentified drones have entered the base’s airspace. (Radio Free Europe)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has banned drone flights over 18 prisons and 10 U.S. Coast Guard facilities. In a statement, the FAA said that it was the first time that it has introduced flight restrictions for drones over these particular kinds of installations. The FAA already prohibits drone flights over military facilities and other sensitive sites. (USA Today)

Know Your Drone

Amazon has been granted a patent for a system to protect delivery drones from remote hijacking attacks. (The Mercury News) For more on Amazon’s drone patents, click here.

A team at the University of Zurich has developed a neural network-based computer vision system that enables small drones to navigate complex environments at high speeds. (Wired)

The U.S. Navy has begun operational testing of the MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter drone aboard the USS Coronado Littoral Combat Ship. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems conducted a mission payloads flight test aboard its MQ-25A surrogate aircraft. (Press Release)

Consumer drone startup Autel Robotics officially launched the EVO, a foldable quadcopter. (Drone DJ)

Drones at Work

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry announced that its forces shot down a surveillance drone operated by the Artsakh Armed Forces near the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. (Panorama.am)

A team from U.S. firm Liquid Robotics is using Wave Glider unmanned vessels to collect data on the impact of the Kilauea lava flow on Hawaii’s marine ecosystem. (ABC 7)

Three senators from Colorado have introduced a bill that would make it a felony to operate drones in a way that interferes with police investigations, emergency response operations, and firefighting efforts. (The Drive)

The U.S. Special Operations Command is exploring the possibility of deploying loitering munitions aboard certain Navy speedboats. (The Drive) For more on loitering munitions, click here.

Supermarket chain Kroger has announced that it is launching a pilot ground robot delivery program in an undisclosed U.S. city. (Forbes)

The Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff, Arizona has deployed an unmanned ground vehicle for security patrols. (Azfamily.com)

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that it plans to fly a MQ-9B SkyGuardian drone across the Atlantic. The flight would be the first transatlantic crossing of a medium-altitude long-endurance drone. (Times of San Diego)

A search and rescue team in Salt Lake City, Utah used a drone to help locate a hiker who had become stranded on Mt. Superior. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force has announced a plan to use domestically produced unmanned undersea vehicles to search for unexploded sea mines. (Gulf News)

The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency is using an unmanned undersea vehicle to help locate victims of a boat wreck that has left more than 200 people missing. (Reuters)

Butler Township in Pennsylvania enacted new drone rules after residents complained about drones flying over private property. (Republican Herald)

A man and a woman in Riverside County, California were sentenced to jail time for using a drone to deliver drugs to customers in a parking lot. (The Press-Enterprise)

The World Economic Forum launched the Drone Innovators Network, a program for sharing research, policies, and best practices for domestic drone integration. (Press Release)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a $29.7 million contract for work on its Low Cost UAV Swarming Technology program. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary, a $8.2 million foreign military sales contract for six ScanEagle systems for the government of Lebanon. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Aquabotix a $78,000 contract to develop an unexploded ordnance detection system for unmanned maritime vehicles. (Jane’s)

Oshkosh Defense was awarded a $49 million contract from the U.S. Army to integrate autonomous capabilities into its Palletized Load System vehicles. (Press Release)

U.S. military drone maker AeroVironment reported that its backlog of orders has surged by 146 percent. (Jane’s)

India and Japan are reportedly exploring the possibility of jointly developing an unmanned ground vehicle. (Business-Standard)

The Michigan State Police selected CNC Technologies to provide a mobile video network for drone operations. (AUVSI)

Transport Canada has selected the Kongsberg Geospatial IRIS display system for a a series of beyond visual line-of-sight flight trials. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Matternet, a drone delivery startup based in California, raised $16 million in a venture round led by Boeing HorizonX Ventures. (TechCrunch)

DroneDeploy, a drone imagery analysis startup based in California, raised $25 million a series C round led by Invenergy Future Fund. (Venture Beat)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Inside Unmanned Systems, James Poss offers some advice to the winners of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program.

In a profile by Mattathias Schwartz for the New York Times Magazine, former CIA director John Brennan reflects on the U.S. targeted killing program.

At a conference in Washington D.C., former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work criticized Google for withdrawing from Project Maven. (Breaking Defense)

Meanwhile, at Foreign Policy, Lara Seligman reports that the Department of Defense is pushing ahead with work on artificial intelligence in spite of Google’s withdrawal.

At The Herald Democrat, William C. Wadsack looks at the ways in which the city manager of Sherman, Texas is putting the city’s drone to work.

At WFYI, Barbara Brosher describes the various ways that public safety agencies in Indiana are adopting drones.

At Today’s TMJ4, Steve Shamraz looks into reports that drone pilots are flying too close to manned aircraft in Milwaukee.

The Post Bulletin published a series of photographs from a local drone race in Rochester, Minnesota.

At The Santa Fe New Mexican, Andrew Oxford writes that Facebook’s decision to cancel Project Aquila has disappointed many at Spaceport America, a potential test site for the solar-powered drones.

At Military.com, Matthew Cox describes a new training program at Fort Benning in Georgia that is teaching U.S. Army soldiers how to fight enemy drones.

In an address to the Drone World Congress in China, Robert Garbett argued that recent forecasts of the drone industry were “too low.” (inAVate)

At The New York Times, Ben Kenigsberg reviews “Hover,” a new film from SyFy about sentient drones.

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