Weekly Roundup 7/22

Gene Robinson, the owner of RP Flight Systems, teamed up with Texas EquuSearch to fly drones in support of volunteer search and rescue operations. Credit: RP Flight Systems Inc.

Gene Robinson, the owner of RP Flight Systems, teamed up with Texas EquuSearch to fly drones in support of volunteer search and rescue operations. Credit: RP Flight Systems Inc.

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News

American drones struck several targets in Pakistan, reportedly killing up to 20 people. The strikes took place in Datta Khel, North Waziristan. The CIA drones targeted a mix of local and foreign militants fleeing from a Pakistani military offensive in the tribal regions. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, three days later, a CIA drone killed at least 15 people in a strike on a compound in North Waziristan. The drones appear to have targeted Pashtun Taliban fighters, though foreign Uzbek fighters may have also been killed. (New York Times)

Texas EquuSearch, a volunteer drone search and rescue organization, will resume its operations following a court ruling that the FAA’s attempt to prohibit the organization from flying was invalid. In a two-page decision, the court ruled that the FAA’s cease-and-desist order, which it sent to EquuSearch in February, was not a legally binding formal order. (Associated Press)

Meanwhile, the FAA is investigating whether Sean Patrick Maloney, a congressman from New York, violated airspace regulations when he hired a drone photographer film his wedding. Mr. Maloney, who married his partner of 22 years Randy Florke, hired photographer Parker Gyokeres to film the wedding using a remote-controlled quadcopter aircraft. The FAA prohibits drones from being used for commercial purposes. (ABC)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At Fast Company, Ariel Schwartz explores how drones may help one activist get around “ag-gag” laws that prohibit photographing animal abuses at factory farms.

In “Right to Flight,” British artist James Bridle will fly a tethered balloon above a London neighborhood to “bring a creative experience with the technology to people in the neighborhood.” (Fast Company)

In an op-ed in The Chicago Tribune, Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., the chairman of the Stimson Center, argues for the establishment of a clear set of rules dictating how drones may and may not be used.

At Quartz, Daniel Medina examines how drones play into Japan’s move away from pacifism.

At the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, University of Birmingham Professor David Dunn argued that, in a military context, “biggest potential use of drone technology” is by non-state actors.

At Lawfare blog, Charles Blanchard reviews Grounded: the Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force by Robert M. Farley.

In an interview with the Telegraph Steve Roast, the CEO of SkyCap, discussed the promise of humanitarian drones at UK’s Farnborough Airshow.

At Motherboard, Shawn Musgrave investigates how the San Jose Police Department acquired an unmanned aircraft with funds provided by the federal government.

At Photography is Not a Crime blog, Andrew Meyer argues that American police are aggressively pursuing drone hobbyists.

Know Your Drone

In its latest round of tests, the British Taranis combat drone prototype demonstrated its stealth capabilities. (Defense Tech)

Russian corporation Rostech presented a concept for an amphibious aerial drone that it claims will be capable of landing on any flat surface. (RT)

Israeli Aerospace Industries has unveiled a compact surveillance drone that is capable of staying airborne for up to 24 hours. (Defense Update)

A Swiss student has developed a search and rescue drone that seeks out potential survivors under rubble, snow or mud by homing in on their mobile phone signals. (Sky News)

Drones at Work

Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, told the Times of Israel that Israeli police will begin using drones to surveil the city’s light rail after days of intense protests earlier this month.

The Federal Aviation Administration granted Washington state a temporary permit to use drones to help fight raging wildfires. The Washington Department of Natural Resources will use the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, a medium-sized surveillance drone. (Seattle Times)

For more on the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, click here.

Meanwhile, Chelan HD Productions flew drones over several neighborhoods that were destroyed by the Washington state fires devastated by the wildfires. (Daily Mail)

The Wildlife Conservation Society is flying drones over the coral reefs of Belize to patrol for illegal fishing activity. (New York Times)

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