Weekly Roundup 9/9

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A 19-year-old teenager was killed in New York City after being struck in the head by his remote-controlled helicopter. (BBC News)

An American drone strike in Pakistan killed Sangeen Zadran, a senior commander of the Haqqani network. The Haqqani network is the only Taliban-affiliated group to hold an American service-member—Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl—in captivity. According to local sources, the drone strike also killed an al-Qaeda commander, three Jordanian nationals and two local fighters. (Al-Jazeera)

Ibrahim Mothana, a Yemeni activist and critic of drone strikes, has died at the age of 24 (Huffington Post). “The drone program,” wrote Mothana in a 2012 New York Times Op-Ed, “is leading to the Talibanization of vast tribal areas and the radicalization of people who could otherwise be America’s allies in the fight against terrorism in Yemen.”

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that al-Qaeda leaders  are devising tactics to disable American drones. A top-secret report by American intelligence agencies included an al-Qaeda handbook that instructed members to establish cells of engineers who could jam the unmanned systems. (Washington Post)

The town of Deer Trail, in the state of Colorado, has reaped over $19,000 by selling licenses for drone bounty hunters. (Fast Company)

Following the successful deployment of drones to fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, authorities in Australia are considering whether to use drones in the next bushfire season. (News.com.au)

Military contractor Northrop Grumman has unveiled an ad campaign in the Washington D.C. metro system that features the Global Hawk drone. (Huffington Post)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

In “Drones over Damascus,” Audrey Kurth Cronin explains the limitations of unmanned aerial systems in crises such as Syria. “Armed drones have serious limitations,” Kurth Cronin explains, “and the situation in Syria lays them bare. They are only useful where the United States has unfettered access to airspace, a well-defined target, and a clear objective.” (Foreign Affairs)

In a paper for the Georgetown Journal of International Law, Michael Lewis and Emily Crawford argue that the Law of Distinction, which requires armies to distinguish between civilians and combatants in military operations, has in fact contributed to the rise in popularity of military drones.

On the War on the Rocks blog, Mark Stout argues that recent communications among al-Qaeda members reflect a “growing respect for American military prowess on the part of al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”

In an Al-Jazeera America profile by Hannah Sistek, Sven Lindqvist, author of A History of Bombing, considers the implications of robotic aerial warfare. “They will be able to carry more and more dangerous cargo,” explains Lindqvist, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, “until they could carry nuclear weapons that could extinguish all of mankind.”

Erin Berger explores the positive consequences of the development in drone technology for environmentalists. (Trust.org)

A group of artists has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Drones, a graphic novel that features “a pancake-loving terrorist turned playwright, a loveable expert in improvised explosive devices, five well dressed assassins, a goat who just might know a thing or two about kung fu, an acrobatic special forces troupe called the Cirque du SEALs, surveillance up the wazoo, and a new kind of poppy that’s going to blow some minds.”

Know Your Drone

Hex, a company that makes an small 3-D printed drone, has far surpassed its $10,000 crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. At our last count, the campaign had reached over $260,000. (Tech Crunch)

SF Express, a Chinese courier company, is experimenting with package delivery drones. (Gizmodo)

The Motley Fool interviewed Stratasys, a 3-D printing company, at the AUVSI conference last month about the applications of 3-D printing for the drone industry.

In a joint project, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are developing a pilotless combat helicopter. (Forbes)

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Matthew Schroyer, the founder of dronejournlism.org, describes how drones are poised to become a transformative tool for journalism. “Many journalists,” writes Schroyer, “never made it home from Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq. These losses made the journalism community pause to think about how reporting on critical humanitarian and political events could be made safer. A few started thinking that drones might be an answer.”

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( Photo: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier currently held in captivity by the Haqqani network in Pakistan. Credit: CBS News)


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