Weekly Roundup 9/1

A video posted on YouTube by MediaTown claims to show the devastated area of Al-Shejaiya in Gaza. 

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News

The United States has started flying drones and manned spy planes over Syria to monitor the Islamic State. The expansion of U.S. military activity over Syria comes on the heels of American airstrikes in Iraq, an effort to lift pressure on Kurdish troops. (The Telegraph)

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defence Force shot down a drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria. It is still not known whether the drone was operated by the government of Bashar Al-Assad or Syrian anti-government forces. (CNN)

Google has been secretly developing a drone delivery system. Engineers have been testing Project Wings by shuttling packages between farms in a remote part of the Australian state of Queensland. “Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation,” said Astro Teller, Google’s Captain of Moonshots, in an interview with the BBC.

The California State Senate approved legislation that requires law enforcement and other government agencies to obtain a warrant before using drones for surveillance. AB 1327 also requires that footage obtained using drones be destroyed within a year of being recorded. The California State Assembly must now sign off on the final version of AB 1327 before the bill is sent to Governor Jerry Brown. (Reuters)

A CareFlight emergency services helicopter carrying a patient to a hospital in Ohio was forced to delay landing due to the presence of a drone in close proximity. The drone was flying around a nearby fairgrounds, forcing the CareFlight helicopter to circle the hospital for nine minutes. Federal regulations prohibit the operation of unmanned aircraft within 400 ft. of a hospital. (Dayton Daily News)

Meanwhile, police in Charlotte, North Carolina detained and questioned a hobbyist who flew a drone over a Panthers-Chiefs exhibition game. The case has now been passed to the Federal Aviation Administration. “We have league-wide policies that prohibit any type of drone in parking lots or in stadiums,” said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, in an interview with the Charlotte Observer.

Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony is developing its own line of drones for inspecting infrastructure and agricultural crops. The technology giant already specializes in advanced sensors, which are a crucial component of professional-use drones. (NHK)

The human rights organization Reprieve accused telecommunications company British Telecom of facilitating the American targeted killing campaign in Yemen. In a complaint to the British government, Reprieve alledges that BT has a $23 million contract to install a fiber optic cable that runs from a base in England to Camp Lemonnier, an American base in Djibouti that is the hub for CIA drone flights in the Horn of Africa. (The Guardian)

The Federal Aviation Administration has denied approval for a University of South Florida library program that would lend drones to students for research. (The Oracle)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

On Bloomberg News’ “Taking Stock,” Pimm Fox speaks with Michael Toscano, president of the drone trade and lobby group Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, about Amazon and Google’s competing drone programs.

At Mashable, Pete Pachal does a side-by-side comparison of the Google and Amazon delivery drones.

At the Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal gets an inside look at Google’s drone delivery program.

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler argues that Google’s investment in drones will benefit the drone industry’s efforts to hasten regulations for unmanned aircraft.

At Mashable, Josh Dickey considers the prominent role that drones have in the upcoming spy thriller The November Man.

At RoboHub, Matthew Shroyer interviews Phillip Grossman about his recent project photographing the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site using a drone.

At the Wall Street Journal, Adam Entous, Julian Barnes and Dion Nissenbaum argue that American drone surveillance over Syria “lays the groundwork” for airstrikes.

At Just Security, Emily Howie writes about how the CIA drone program has strained the ties between the American and Australian intelligence communities.

Iran released video footage of what it claims is an Israeli Hermes surveillance drone that was recently downed near the Natanz nuclear facility. (Haaretz)

At Al Jazeera America, Samuel Oakford looks at the tactical aims of the U.N.’s drone surveillance flights in the Democratic Republic of Congo and considers the challenges that the program faces.

For the musical piece LOOP>>60Hz : Transmissions from The Drone Orchestra, duo John Cale and Liam Young are using drones as musical instruments. (YouTube)

At War is Boring, Matthew Gault considers a Texas megachurch preacher’s sermon about how God is like a drone.

At Forbes, Gregory McNeal examines Disney’s plans to use drones to create enormous flying puppets.

Know Your Drone

China has successfully test flown its newest military drone, the weaponized Rainbow No. 4. (Xinhua)

A QF-16 target drone, a self-flying retrofitted F-16 fighter jet, was used in a successful ground-to-air missile test. (Flight Global)

Airbus Defense and Space has conducted an 11-day test flight of a high-altitude, solar-powered drone. (UPI)

Instead of using fragile, exposed rotors to propel its drones, U.S. company Ashima has created a series of mini drones that use ducted fan jet propulsion. (Reno Gazzette-Journal)

A Drexel University student has raised $1million for his startup, which proposes to use drones for aerial banner advertising (Fortune)

The U.S. Navy’s X-47B stealth combat drone has successfully completed  its first nighttime taxi maneuvers aboard an aircraft carrier. (Navy Live)

Researchers in Australia created helicopter drones that autonomously seek out invasive weed species. (Gizmag)

Drones at Work

MediaTown, a Palestinian company, used a quadcopter drone to create an aerial video of Al-Shejaiya, a neighborhood in Gaza that was destroyed in the recent conflict. (YouTube)

A hobbyist flew a drone over California’s Napa Valley after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage in the area. (Los Angeles Times)

A week into the demolition of 5Pointz, Aymann Ismail used a drone to get one last look at New York City’s historic shrine to graffiti art. (Animal)

Photo Credit: Paolo Pellegrin/ Magnum, for the New York Times.

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For Mashable’s take on the week in drone news, check out Drone Beat.

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