Weekend Roundup 6/24

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News Trending Now

Robert Mueller, the outgoing director of the FBI, said in a Senate hearing on Wednesday that the FBI has occasionally used drones over the United States in support of law enforcement operations: “We have very few and of limited use, and we are exploring not only the use but the necessary guidelines for that use,” he said. (Washington Post)

A report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission explained that Chinese companies “appear to be positioning themselves to become key suppliers of UAVs in the global market.” (QZ.com)

Members of Pakistan’s newly-elected Parliament are speaking out against American drone strikes in their country, pressuring their government to do more to stop the strikes. MP Mushahid Hussain said, “it is incumbent on the newly elected government of Pakistan to take a clear, principled, strong position on this issue.” (Press TV)

At the Paris Airshow, numerous companies have been showing off their latest drones. As the Japan Times reports, the UAV industry is attempting to reboot its public image by emphasizing the critical non-military applications of drones.

That said, as Tech News Daily reported, the current FAA regulations banning the commercial use of drones are routinely violated by companies all over the country seeking to use drones for peaceful purposes.

Surveillance drones were used to monitor the area surrounding the recent G-8 summit in Ireland. (Policy Mic)

Kenyan officials announced that security forces will use drones to “thwart” gunrunners and Al-Shabaab insurgents, who have begun to infiltrate the north of the country. “We hope this technology will go a long way in addressing security threats in the region,” explained Police Chief Charlton Mureithi. (All Africa)

Last week, we reported that drones were being used to monitor protests in Turkey. Now, they are being used in Brazil. The result? A spike in reported UFO sightings. (Huffington Post)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

Robert Chesney at Lawfare Blog connects the recent NSA spying scandal with drone strikes: “if a program depends on a classified and non-obvious interpretation of what the law permits, it is more likely to generate legal criticism if and when the details of the program leak.”

Tim Hsia and Jared Sperli, two ROTC reserves, describe how both drones and cyberwarfare have revolutionized warfare: “These new kinds of warfare seem likely to further empower the executive branch at a time when our nation no longer declares war, potentially making the War Powers Act seem even less constraining and thus more outdated. Ultimately, it seems possible that these major changes will make it easier to wage war because the risks to American servicemen have been minimized.” (New York Times)

David Swanson writes about Liberty University’s new concentration in Unmanned Aerial Systems. “At Liberty, the military is considered a tool for Christian missionaries. But what, I asked, about killing people with drones?” (Counter Punch)

Laura Matthews questions the wisdom of increased spending on border surveillance drones that would be the result of the proposed immigration bill currently under review in the U.S. Senate. “The question remains whether more drones and agents along the border is the best way to go.” (International Business Times)

Daniel Byman makes a detailed case for military drones. “Civilian deaths are tragic and pose political problems,” writes. “But the data show that drones are more discriminate than other types of force.” (Foreign Affairs)


Know Your Drone

After five years of research, students and faculty at Beijing University have published a study on the mechanisms for controlling the flight formation of autonomous drones: The trophallactic algorithm, as it is called, “is based on the…behavior of social insects, animals and birds, such as ants, bees, wasps, sheep, dogs, sparrows and swallows.” (sUAS News)

The MeCam is a tiny quadcopter designed specifically for self-surveillance. “The MeCam launches from the palm of a hand and hovers instantly,” explains Always Innovating, the company behind the drone. “The MeCam streams video to an Android or iOS phone or tablet. Videos can then be easily shared on social media platforms.” (Always Innovating)

The French company Survey Copter has teamed up with Stratasys to produce drones using a 3D printer. (3D Printing Industry)

Aerohive Networks, a California-based company, launched a drone equipped with an internet router in order to provide WiFi to inaccessible areas.

Ballista is the name of a new operating system that allows for multiple drones to be controlled by one individual at once. (GCN)

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed tiny, disposable drones to monitor hurricanes. (Extreme Tech)

Parrot, the company known for its AR drones, has used a drone to make an incredibly detailed 3D map of the Paris Air Show. (Youtube)


Center for the Study of the Drone Roundup

A schedule of drone-related lectures, conferences, art shows, and concerts this summer.

Dan Gettinger was in Istanbul to write about the protests at Taksim Square: “Swarming involves a collection of flexible and amorphous groups who, in lacking a central staging area, can avoid presenting the opposing force with an identifiable strategic core. This was precisely the case in Istanbul.”

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(Photo Credit: Parrot)