Weekend Roundup 8/5

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Three suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants were killed in a particularly active week of drone strikes in Yemen. (Reuters)

During an official visit to Pakistan, American Secretary of State John Kerry declared that drone strikes would soon end in the northwestern regions of the country, explaining that the U.S. has “eliminated most of the threat.” (New York Times)

However, the White House was less confident about the prospect of ending drone operations.  A State Department spokesperson explained that the current administration is “realistic about the fact that there is a threat that remains and that we have to keep up our vigilance to fight in this and other places around the world.”  (The Hill)

Members of the Filipino Congress are calling for an investigation into reports that U.S. drones have been patrolling the West Philippine Sea after the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that it had agreed to allow U.S. UAVs into Filipino airspace.  The presence of drones “poses threats to civilian population because these are instruments we know little about that may be controlled by forces outside territories and have the potential of endangering the civilian population,” explained congresswoman Luz Ilagan. (ABS-CBN News)

Paparazzi in Switzerland used a drone to photograph singer Tina Turner’s wedding. “Shortly after the Buddhist ceremony, the wedding party was startled by a small plane overhead,” ABC News reported. Police soon arrived and ordered that the drone be grounded.  (ABC News)

The U.S. Senate is debating a funding bill that would halt the Federal Aviation Authority’s efforts to integrate drones into domestic airspace by 2015, pending an in-depth study of potential privacy concerns. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a supporter of the bill, has declared that drones are “the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans.” (The Washington Times)

An amendment to the State Department funding bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Representatives, would prohibit the United Nations from flying drones over the United States. (Huffington Post)

Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced that the first mission for their Italian-made surveillance drones will be in the Congo. (Reuters)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

BBC Magazine profiles U.S. congressman Buck McKeon, one of the most prominent public supporters of the drone industry. McKeon has reaped the benefits of his support for UAVs: he has received more campaign contributions from the unmanned technology industry than any other member of the U.S. Congress.

Derek Gregory posts at the Geographical Imaginations blog about the “Militarized Vision” of drones.

Additionally, Gregory has produced three more posts on Grégoire Chamayou‘s Théorie du drone.

Center for the Study of the Drone’s Arthur Holland Michel writes for Policy Innovations about the barriers to successful UAV integration in the U.S., and calls for restraint and creative thinking among those planning to use UAV technology. “Each time that a drone is used in a harmful or superfluous way,” he writes, “the movement against domestic drones of all kinds will gain traction. This trend will continue unless drones are used for beneficial, innovative applications.”

Lexicographer Ben Zimmer explains how the meaning of the word “drone” changed from “male honeybee” to “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.”

Farea al-Muslimi describes the experience of hearing about U.S. drone strikes on his home village in Yemen. “It seems that no part of Yemen is safe from U.S. drones,” he writes. (Mikael Strandberg)

Drone U interviews the President of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Michael Toscano about the implications of drone technology for agriculture. (Slate)

Mike O’Loughlin compares the U.S. military’s use of atom bombs in Japan to the contemporary use of drones. “As with the nuclear bombings,” he writes, “our government justifies this violence as part of war, arguing that this use of violence is necessary and unavoidable.” (Delmarvanow.com)

Eric Schechter at Popular Mechanics reports on the rapid rise in popularity of UAV technology programs of study at U.S. Universities.

Know Your Drone

A team of researchers at ETH Zürich University are developing swarming hexagonal 3D-printed drones that can self-assemble into larger drones.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced a new international research project that will make use of drones to study the retreat of glaciers. (IAEA)

Teams of drone hobbyists in Russia are competing in the final rounds of the Flying Drones Contest. The grand prize: one million rubles. (sUAS News)

Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor at Idaho State University, has announced his plans to deploy a camera-equipped drone to search for the mythical creature Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. We wish him all the best. (Red Alert)


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(Photo: Yemen’s Hadhramaut Credit: Mauricio Longhin via Flickr

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