Weekly Roundup 6/17/19

An MQ-9 Reaper at Hurlburt Field in 2017. Credit: Airman 1st Class Caleb Pavao

June 10, 2019 – June 16, 2019

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

We are pleased to announce the publication of the book Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone. A detailed account of the history and future of advanced—and increasingly automated—airborne surveillance technologies, Eyes in the Sky considers how we can capitalize on the technology’s promise while addressing its many risks.

Eyes in the Sky, powerfully unpacks the evolution and morality of modern aerial surveillance.”

—General (ret.) Stanley McChrystal

Top Stories

The U.S. has accused Iran of firing an anti-aircraft missile at an MQ-9 Reaper drone as it flew over the Gulf of Oman. In a statement, a U.S. military official said that the Reaper was flying above one of the two fuel tankers that suffered explosions last week when it came under attack. The U.S. also accused Iran of helping the Houthi group down a Reaper over Yemen. (Los Angeles Times)

Saudi Arabia said that it intercepted five drones launched by the Houthi group in Yemen. In a statement, a representative for the Saudi-led military coalition said that the drones were targeting Abha Airport, where 26 civilians were wounded in a Houthi cruise missile strike earlier in the week. (Agence-France Presse)

The European Union published new regulations for recreational and commercial drone users. The rules, which were drafted by the European Aviation Safety Agency, define limits on the distance from the operator at which a drone is permitted to fly and require all drones to be registered and identifiable. The rules will go into effect in July 2020 and will override the national regulations currently in place in member states. (Associated Press)

Uber announced that it will begin using drones to deliver food, under a collaboration with McDonalds in the city of San Diego, California. In a statement, an Uber representative said that it has already begun testing the drone delivery system and that it intends to start commercial deliveries within months. The company is working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to meet requirements. (Associated Press)

Know Your Drone

Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems unveiled the Hermes 45, a small fixed-wing surveillance drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Italian defense firm Leonardo unveiled the Falco EVO, a long-endurance surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (DefenseNews)

U.S. firm DZYNE Technologies unveiled the ROTORwing, a drone that uses its fixed-wing as a rotor for vertical take-off and landing. (Jane’s)

U.K. firm Chess Dynamics unveiled two counter-drone detection systems, AirGuard and AirShield. (Shephard News)

The U.S. Army announced that it intends to equip its Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium with a 30 mm cannon. (Jane’s)

Chinese drone maker DJI unveiled the RoboMaster S1, a small unmanned ground vehicle designed to help children learn coding skills. (The Verge)

U.K. startup FlareBright unveiled the SnapShot, an autonomous surveillance micro-drone. (AIN Online)

A joint team from Draper and Harvard University is developing a climbing micro-bot for search and rescue operations. (AUVSI)

The U.S. military has issued a request for whitepapers for air-launched drones equipped with magnetic anomaly detectors for anti-submarine warfare operations. (Military & Aerospace Electronics)

Drone maker AirSelfie unveiled the Air Pix, an autonomous camera drone. (New Atlas)

A Boeing prototype unmanned passenger air vehicle crashed due to unspecified causes during a flight test. (AIN Online)

NASA’s Mars Helicopter program, which is building a helicopter drone to explore the surface of Mars, has been approved to enter its final testing phase. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

A joint team from SK Telecom, Silla University, the Korean Army, and Hanbit Drone has developed a counter-drone detection and neutralization system. (ElectronicsWeekly.com)

Drones at Work

The government of Malaysia announced that it plans to deploy 12 ScanEagle drones, which it will receive from the U.S., with the Royal Malaysian Navy. (Jane’s)

It has been revealed that an armed Milrem Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle participated in NATO’s ‘Spring Storm’ military exercise in Estonia last month. (Jane’s)

Japan’s parliament passed legislation outlawing the use of drones while intoxicated. (BBC News)

Indian drone delivery firm Zomato announced that it conducted a successful test of a drone delivery system. (TechCrunch)

President Trump announced that the U.S. will expand its military presence in Poland by sending additional troops, Reaper drones, and other weapons to the country. (BBC News)

Meanwhile, a Russian deputy foreign minister expressed concern at the U.S. decision to send additional drones to Poland. (Reuters)

The Correctional Service of Canada will install drone detection systems at six facilities around the country to combat aerial contraband deliveries to prisons. (CBC)

Industry Intel

In a letter to two Congressional committees, the Trump administration warned that the U.S. defense industrial base lacked sufficient capacity to produce small drones. (C4ISRNET)

AeroVironment has acquired Pulse Aerospace, a Kansas-based company that specializes in manufacturing rotary-wing drones, for $25.7 million. (San Fernando Valley Business Journal)

Elbit Systems is reportedly close to securing a $180 million deal with the Philippines to supply Hermes 900, Hermes 450, Skylark 1, and Skylark 3 drones to the Phillippine Army. (Globes)

Australia’s Harris Technology has acquired Fstop Labs, a U.S. company specializing in supplying parts for DJI drones. (ChannelNews)

The U.S. Air Force is seeking to purchase three Dronebuster Block 3 handheld counter-drone systems. (FBO)

In its Defence Capability Plan 2019, the government of New Zealand announced plans to acquire long-range drones. (FlightGlobal)

Hydrogen engine firm Plug Power announced that it is acquiring EnergyOr, a Canadian manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cells for drones. (Aviation International Online)

GENIUS NY has launched its fourth annual competition to award five drone startups a total of $3 million in funding. (Inside Unmanned Systems)

Ordnance Survey, a U.K. national mapping agency, awarded Terra Drone Europe a contract for drones and mapping services. (Press Release)

Robotic Skies has partnered with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies to provide maintenance and repair services to Silent Falcon customers. (Press Release)

Textron Systems will not be displaying the Nightwarden drone at the Paris Air Show, focusing on other unmanned platforms instead. (Shephard Media)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

A new report by the Congressional Research Service examines the technology and strategy underpinning the U.S. Navy’s plan to develop large unmanned surface vehicles. (PDF)

At Aviation International Online, Beth Stevenson examines efforts in the U.S. and Australia to develop a drone that can accompany fighter jets.

In a podcast at Shephard Media, Helen Haxell and Matt Smith discuss Shephard’s market forecast for unmanned systems.

In a TEDx Talk, James Rogers discusses the potential for rogue drones to cause chaos. (YouTube)

At Shephard Media, Tim Martin writes that U.S. companies are seeing an opportunity to export large military drones to countries in the Middle East.

In an op-ed in TechCrunch, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao describes how drones are being used for good, and explains how U.S.regulatory agencies are supporting the integration of the technology into the airspace.

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton examines the 110-year history behind the cyclocopter, a Russian drone prototype under development.

At Amazon’s DayOne blog, Jeff Wilke explains the company’s vision for using drones for deliveries.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Yahoo Finance, Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopolous expresses doubt that Amazon’s timeline for delivery drones was realistic.

In an article at the Hawaii Tribune Herald, the staff of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory explain how they’ve been using drones to monitor volcanoes.

In a conference in South Africa, representatives from industry, academia, and government discussed the ways in which drones could be used in agriculture. (Defence Web)

At Aviation International Online, Gerrard Cowan writes that recent incidents at airports involving drones have spurred the development of counter-drone systems.


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