Weekly Roundup 10/14/19

October 7, 2019 – October 13, 2019

Top Stories

The U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee released a report calling for the government to enact a range of new policies to foster the integration of drones into the country’s airspace system. Among other measures, the report calls for specific legislation banning weaponized drones and requiring manufacturers to build a range of standard safety features into commercially available unmanned systems.

An Airbus Zephyr high-altitude pseudo-satellite drone crashed during testing at Wyndham Airport in Australia after encountering clear turbulence. It is the second crash of an Airbus Zephyr, an advanced developmental system, in less than a year. (The Kimberley Echo)

Know Your Drone

The Iranian Army unveiled the Heidar-1, a small explosives-laden unmanned ground robot designed to detonate underneath enemy armored vehicles. (Popular Mechanics)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has delayed the initial flight test of a prototype drone developed for its Gremlins swarming program after the planned testing site in China Lake, California sustained damage from a recent earthquake. (Air Force Magazine)

Ukrainian firm Roboneers unveiled the Camel, a logistics unmanned ground vehicle capable of carrying up to 400 kg of cargo. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, Ukrainian firm Infocom unveiled the Scorpion, a tracked unmanned ground vehicle equipped with a machine gun and a grenade-launcher. (Jane’s)

Australian shipbuilder Austal unveiled prototypes for a series of large unmanned vessels that it is developing for potential future U.S. Navy programs. (Jane’s)

Drone maker UAVOS unveiled the R22-UV, an unmanned helicopter designed for aerial spraying operations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Chinese drone maker DJI is preparing to launch a new drone, the Mavic Mini, according to documents filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. (TechRadar)

Embraer announced that it has conducted the first test of an autonomous unmanned aircraft in Brazil in partnership with the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. (Aviation Pros)

Drones at Work

Security authorities in Chennai, India used drones to create a detailed 3D map of the route to be taken by President Xi Jingping during the Chinese leader’s state visit to the area. (The Times of India)

The U.S.-based Drone Racing League has launched the Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing series, which will pit autonomous drones programmed by competing teams on a variety of racing circuits. (CNET)

A U.S. Air Force XQ-58A Valkyrie jet drone was damaged as a result of high surface winds and a malfunctioning recovery system during a flight test at the Yuma Proving Grounds. (Military.com)

The Russian Navy is working to equip its Tupolev Tu-142MZ/MR patrol aircraft with datalinks so that crews onboard can receive direct intelligence feeds from surveillance drones. (Jane’s)

The Royal Australian Navy has begun evaluations of its ScanEagle surveillance and reconnaissance drones for mine-countermeasures operations. (Janes’s)

U.S. medical provider Sanford Health has launched a program to explore the possibility of using drones for medical deliveries. (The Duluth News Tribune)

In a report submitted to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Indian intelligence analysts accused Pakistan of using drones to deliver small arms and explosives to personnel embedded in Punjab. (India Today)

The Chula Vista Police Department in California announced that in less than a year it has conducted over 1,000 drone missions, which together contributed to more than 130 arrests. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Queensland Police have equipped a number of motorbikes with drones for crash-scene mapping operations. (Computerworld)

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina are looking for a man who allegedly piloted a drone that crashed into the sixth floor of an office building, resulting in minor damage. (WSOCTV)

Aviation firm AAR has begun using drones for aircraft maintenance inspections. (AIN Online)

Defense firm Raytheon revealed that it has been testing counter-drone systems at several sports venues in the U.S. (Defense One)

Emergency responders in the Bahamas have been using the Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard for underwater mapping to support relief efforts following Hurricane Dorian. (Maritime Executive)

The Singapore Armed Forces revealed that it is studying how to protect the territory from drone strikes in the wake of the attacks on two Saudi oil facilities last month. (The Straits Times)

Austrian drone maker Schiebel announced that it has completed a series of flight trials of the CamCopter S-100 with the Norwegian Coast Guard. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Industry Intel

DeDrone, a counter-drone systems startup, has acquired the DroneDefender anti-drone jammer and its associated hardware and software assets from U.S. defense firm Battelle. (Washington Technology)

Hoverfly, an Orlando-based company that specializes in tethered drones, announced that it has been awarded a $10 million contract by an unspecified U.S. government agency. (UnmannedAerial.com)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that U.S. firm Aeronyde Corporation will build a drone facility in Covington, Virginia. (10News)

Meanwhile, Virginia awarded a $1.5 million grant to the Commonwealth Center of Innovation for Autonomous Systems for research into unmanned autonomous systems. (Press Release)

U.S. drone delivery firm Workhorse Group has partnered with Unmanned Systems Operations Group to launch a drone delivery pilot program in the San Diego area. (Press Release)

U.S. airspace equipment firm uAvionix acquired AeroVonics, an Albuquerque-based startup that specializes in digital cockpit displays. (AOPA)

Israeli drone maker Aeronautics delivered four Aerostar Tactical UAS drones to the Cyprus National Guard in a deal worth approximately $13 million. (Globes)

Australia’s Department of Defense awarded Sypaq Systems a $3.5 million contract to develop a new drone for maritime operations. (Press Release)

Airbus and Local Motors Industries have formed a joint venture, Neorizon, that will employ 3D printing systems to manufacture drones and self-driving vehicles. (Financial Times)

The U.S. Navy awarded IMSAR a $7.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery contract for sensor and relay systems for the RQ-21A Blackjack drone. (DoD)

U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and NASA have signed a cooperative agreement to conduct a demonstration flight in 2020 as part of the agency’s program to develop systems for integrating large drones into U.S. civilian airspace. (Press Release)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art 

At NBC Think, Sébastien Roblin writes that China’s recent 70th anniversary military parade shows that the People’s Liberation Army has surpassed the U.S. in its ability to produce advanced drones and hypersonic weapons.

At Livemint, Abhijit Ahaskar considers why India’s regulators may not open the country’s skies for drone deliveries until the end of 2020.

At The Loadstar, Ian Putzger writes that a “regulatory bottleneck” is keeping a fleet of large cargo drones grounded in Kenya.

At Forbes, Anthony DiNota, Steve Douglas, and Dave Marcontell explain why integrating routine drone deliveries into civilian airspace systems is more challenging than you might think.

A report by a team at the University of Nevada and the Electronic Frontier Foundation charts the growing use of drones and other surveillance technologies along the southern U.S. border and nearby communities. (The Atlantic)

At ABC7 WJLA, Joce Sterman and Alex Brauer offer an inside look at U.S. Customs and Border Protection drone operations over the U.S.-Mexico border.

At Northern Ontario Business, Colleen Romaniuk profiles Forward Robotics, a local startup developing autonomous crop-spraying drones.

At Jane’s, Kelvin Wong analyzes a deleted image posted by the Republic of Singapore Air Force showing a Heron 1 surveillance and reconnaissance drone mounted with a new sensor pod.

At NBC News, Katie Flaherty explains how a recent emergency incident in a public park in California reveals the limitations of police robot technology.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, an Israeli Air Force squadron commander describes his unit’s recent airstrike on a facility in Syria that was allegedly being used to prepare drones for attacks on Israeli territory.

At Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, James Rogers explains that “hostile drone” incidents are likely to become more common and dangerous in the coming years.

U.S. consulting firm Frost & Sullivan published an analysis of 22 companies that offer drone services for industry and government customers. (Press Release)

In a U.S. Air Force blog post, Senior Airman Haley Stevens charts the Air Force’s efforts to protect the MQ-9 Reaper fleet from cyber attacks.