Weekly Roundup 10/13

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In 2012, a Swiss photographer used a drone to take aerial photos of Tina Turner’s wedding. Now, as paparazzi drones proliferate, they are being taken very seriously by legislators and celebrities alike. Paparazzi drones have now been effectively prohibited by a new privacy law in California. As the paparazzi drone debate heats up, here is what you need to know.


Seven reported U.S. drone strikes hit Pakistan in the past week, killing at least 21 people. The strikes were concentrated in the Shawal Valley in South Waziristan, and in the Datta Khel, an area in North Waziristan. Both regions are known transit hubs for militant fighters en route to Afghanistan. There were reportedly Taliban commanders among those targeted, though it is unclear if any of the militant leaders were killed. (Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

Germany and France have submitted a proposal to send drone aircraft, operators, and armed military protection units to Ukraine. The drones would monitor the ceasefire between government and separatist forces. The proposal will be considered by the 55 members of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, as well as by the governments of Ukraine and Russia. (Financial Times)

The Federal Aviation Administration is attempting to repeal the 1981 guidelines for flying model aircraft. The agency issued a memorandum this week stating that it intends to cancel Advisory Circular 91-57, arguing that the rules for model aircraft were superseded by the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which, according to the FAA, grants the agency broad powers to restrict drone flights by private citizens. (Motherboard)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

In an in-depth New York Magazine cover story, Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrestles with the dehumanizing effect of drones. “With a drone you roam in a peculiar disembodied manner; you move through the world a little less like an actor and a little more like a director.”

At the Washington Post, Christine C. Fair questions the accuracy of the “advocacy-driven” reports on the civilian costs of drone strikes.

At Defense One, Paul Scharre and Shawn Brimley argue that the U.S. Navy should cut short the development of an advanced stealth drone in order to redesign the program.

Meanwhile, at War on the Rocks, Paul Scharre takes stock of the progress that the different U.S. military service branches have made to integrate drones.

At Aviation Week, David Eshel explores the ways that ground and air robots could enhance battlefield operations when used together.

At Information Dissemination blog, the blogger known as “Lazarus” argues that public mistrust of drones is “shaped by science fiction stories and films rather than science fact.”

At Fortune, Clay Dillow takes a look at the burgeoning marketplace of drone startup companies.

At The Guardian, Antony Loewenstein questions whether it is possible for a drone manufacturer to run an ethical business.

At Just Security, Ryan Goodman reflects on how best to end the “forever war” in light of the recent airstrikes against ISIL.

At Newsweek, Lauren Walker writes that headwinds pose a challenge to the feasibility of drone delivery programs.

At the Wall Street Journal, Jack Nicas reports on the debate in the drone industry over what drones—or UAVs, UASs, RPASs, or robots, if you will—should be called.

Know Your Drone

Scientists at Defense Research and Development Canada are grappling with the challenge of designing drones that can function in harsh arctic conditions.

Technology website The Register is hoping to send a volunteer-built, crowdfunded, rocket-propelled drone to an altitude of 60,000 ft. (IB Times)

San Fransisco-based drone company AeriCam is developing a quadcopter that fits in your pocket. With enough Kickstarter backers, the Anura could be sold for as little as $200. (NPR)

Drones at Work

Cloud-seeding drones could be part of the solution to California’s drought crisis. (National Journal)

Beginning next spring, NASA will use drones to spot wildfires in North Carolina. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Helen Greiner, the CEO of CyPhy Works and co-founder of iRobot, discussed the ways that drones could be used to deal with dangerous situations. (The Telegraph)

In Kentucky, the National Weather Service used a drone to examine the extent of the damage in the wake of a severe tornado. (WKYT)

The city government of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has put a hold on plans to use drones to observe parks and construction projects until federal flight regulations are developed. (Argus Leader)

The Surfzone Oil Pathways Experiment used a drone to “explore how ocean currents transport material from offshore into the surf zone.” (YouTube)

A video of a hawk attacking a drone in Massachusetts went viral. (CNET)

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For Mashable’s take on the week in drone news, check out Drone Beat.