Weekly Roundup 10/27

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

South Korea wants its citizens to keep an eye on the sky for North Korean drones. We obtained exclusive photos of “Wanted: Drone” posters from the demilitarized zone. Dan Gettinger explains the history of North Korea’s drone incursions into South Korea and describes why Seoul must rely on its citizens to be on the lookout.


A U.S. drone strike on October 15 reportedly killed four al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen. Among the dead was Mahdi Badas, a local commander of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. The four men were traveling in a vehicle in Yemen’s Shabwa province, an AQAP stronghold, when they were struck. (Long War Journal)

On October 24, a second U.S. drone strike in Yemen reportedly killed three members of Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group associated with al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. The group is engaged in a battle against Shi’ite Muslim Houthis over control of territory in central Yemen. (Reuters)

China deployed over 1,200 soldiers and two fighter jets in response to an unauthorized drone flight near Beijing International Airport. According to the state-run newspaper China Daily, two men were arrested on the scene and a third later confessed to flying a 7.5ft.-long aircraft to survey and map the area. All manned and unmanned flights in China require authorization by the aviation authorities. (The Guardian)

State Farm has filed an application with the Department of Transportation requesting permission to start testing drones near its headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois. The insurance giant wants to use drones to evaluate property damages. (Bloomington Pantagraph)

In a new report for a commission on drone regulations at Birmingham University, Sir David Omand warns that British drone operators embedded at U.S. Air Force bases could be breaking international law. The report questions the legality of President Obama’s use of drones for targeted killing operations. Sir Omand is the former head of Global Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s equivalent of the American National Security Agency. (The Independent)

Canada’s aviation authorities released new guidelines governing private drone use. The rules emphasize avoiding heavily populated areas and sensitive facilities like prisons. In a statement, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said that the guidelines are intended to build a “safety culture” for flying drones and refuted the claim that she wanted to “shut down” private drone users. Canada already has weight and application restrictions on drones. (The Star)

A U.S. military surveillance drone was damaged while landing at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger. In a statement, the Pentagon said that the drone made a “hard landing” but that no one was hurt. Niamey is located near the border with Mali where Islamist insurgents are active. (Associated Press)

Meanwhile, a United Nations peacekeeping drone crashed in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo shortly after taking off from Goma. Nobody was hurt in the incident. (AFP)

A new report on a close encounter between a manned commercial aircraft and a quadcopter drone near Southend Airport in England seems to suggest that the pilot of the drone intentionally approached the other aircraft. The report rated the risk of collision between the two craft as “high.” (Airprox)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

A policy commission at Birmingham University has released a new report on the challenges and opportunities for commercial and military drone applications.

At Drone Wars UK, Chris Cole responds to the Birmingham University report, taking issue with the Commission’s endorsement of continued investment in military and commercial drones.

At Geographical Imaginations, Derek Gregory explores the narrow field of view of Predator drone pilots.

At Real Clear Politics, Toby Harnden writes about the representation in fictional popular media of the women in the CIA who are involved in targeted killings.

At the Washington Post, Dominic Basulto argues that a “collective drone paranoia” is crippling innovation and the development of sound policies.

Motherboard’s Jason Koebler visited Grand Forks, North Dakota, the “drone capital of the world,” to see the city’s numerous military and police drone programs.

At Defense One, Marcus Weisgerber argues that despite the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still needs even more airborne intelligence assets like drones.

Also at Defense One, Patrick Tucker offers a few robotic solutions for containing Ebola.

At War on the Rocks, Paul Scharre and Daniel Burg argue that the Pentagon could save money in the long run by investing in the development of unmanned systems.

Know Your Drone

Aerial Power, a startup company out of London, markets a drone equipped with little brooms that can be used to clean solar panels. (Fast Company)

A team at the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at the University of Texas at San Antonio, with funding from the U.S. military, is developing mind-controlled drones. (Business Insider)

The U.S. and Singapore militaries are jointly testing a system for using underwater drones to listen for Chinese submarines. (Wall Street Journal)

A French startup is hoping to create a crowdfunded bionic bird drone that can be controlled with a smartphone.

Norway wants to develop robot-controlled missiles for fighter jets, a plan which peace organizations are saying needs to be debated in Parliament first. (The Local)

Drones at Work

On an island in Borneo, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are using drones to map out areas that are infected with malaria. (Live Science)

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, Doctors Without Borders is pairing up with drone company Matternet to combat a tuberculosis epidemic by using drones to transport blood samples from rural areas to clinics. (Fast Company)

In eastern Ukraine, a pair of Austrian-made drones were successfully tested by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. They will be used to monitor the ceasefire between separatists and government forces. (AFP)

Students at South Elgin High School in Illinois are using a drone to film football games. (Chicago Tribune)

A research team at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks plans to use drones to spot hibernating bears so that oil and gas companies operating in the area can maintain a safe distance. (Ktoo)

The government of the Australian state of Victoria plans to eventually use drones to keep an eye in the sky during emergency situations such as bushfires. (IT News)

A Stanford Ph.D candidate wants to use fleets of drones to airlift food and medical supplies to conflict areas ins Syria. (3D Robotics)

SENEAM, Mexico’s national air traffic controllers organization, made an aerial video of Mexico City’s International Airport. (Kinja)

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Nick Leiber looks at a number of different initiatives to create humanitarian drones.

For updates, news, and commentary, follow us on Twitter!

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

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