Weekend Roundup 8/12

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In light of new reported security threats from al-Queda groups, the U.S. has escalated the frequency of drone strikes in Yemen; in the most recent strikes, 22 suspected al-Queda militants were killed. (Bloomberg)

In a speech about national surveillance programs, President Obama spoke about the recent strikes in Yemen. The president explained that while the core of al-Queda had been “decimated” in recent years, “we have to be vigilant, and continue to go after known terrorists who are potentially carrying out plots or who are going to strengthen their capacity over time.” (The New York Times)

Lawmakers in North Carolina passed a new state budget that prohibits state agencies from purchasing surveillance drones. (Winston-Salem Journal)

Kenya will deploy drones to support paramilitary forces in an effort to stop elephant poaching. (Bloomberg)

Residents of Deer Trail, Colorado, voted on an ordinance to grant $25 drone hunting licenses for drone bounty hunters. The vote resulted in a tie, and will now pass on to a “special election.” (sUAS News)


Commentary, Analysis, and Art

Tyler Lopez at Slate.com explores the growing use of surveillance blimps in the U.S. military and considers whether we should be as frightened of them as we are of drones.

A rudimentary multi-rotor drone was used to capture incredible footage of the ongoing protests in Cairo. (Youtube)

N+1’s Marco Roth imagines the “Drone Philosopher:” “I, too, can almost imagine a dialogue,” writes Roth, “an ongoing symposium latently emerging among the drone operating personnel, the way blossoms from a tree planted in a sheltered courtyard, with sun coming only from the west, bloom late, only as afternoon light lengthens.”

Tushev Aerials flew a First Person View drone over the campus of Bard College. (Youtube)

Rand Paul, who made a 13-hour filibuster to protest military and surveillance drones earlier this year, tweeted a link to a story about drones that delivered beer, adding “Perhaps I am not against ALL drones!” (The Hill)

Devon Douglas-Bowers argues that U.S. military drone use embodies and perpetuates a militaristic and imperialistic paradigm in American society. (Foreign Policy Journal)

Popular Science compiled a slideshow of “7 of the Best Gimmick Drones.”


Know Your Drone

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center inaugurated a new exhibition to show off the latest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology. On the Fly: Technology Takes Off, which runs until December, features daily technology demonstrations.

University of Texas professor Todd Humphreys, who drew national media attention last year for using a simple GPS spoofing device to take control of a government drone, explained how simple technologies can be used to commandeer GPS-guided vehicles. (Raw Story)

Meanwhile, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, Australian computer scientist Zoz explained how drones could be hacked, just like a computer or a cell phone. “We are on the cusp of shared use acceptance of driverless vehicles on the road, shared airspace with UAVs, and so it’s time to think about adversarial relationships and how we make these systems bulletproof,” explained Zoz. (RT)

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) will hold its 13th Unmanned Systems conference, the largest conference for drone technology in the world, from August 12 to 15 in Washington D.C. We will live tweet the event.


At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Dan Gettinger uses the trial of Nidal Hasan, the “Fort Hood Shooter,” to explain the difficulty of distinguishing between civilians and combatants in the new era of warfare. “A strategy,” explains Gettinger, “that focuses on killing insurgents, rather than building the trust of the host community, transfers the risk to the civilian population who, as a result of high intensity operations, are more likely to be killed in greater proportion to the counterinsurgency force.”

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(Photo Creidt: Tushev Aerials)
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