Weekly Roundup 10/6

If you would like to receive the Weekly Roundup in your inbox, please subscribe at the bottom of the page.

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In an in-depth conversation with Arthur Holland Michel, High & Low Bureau discusses surveillance as a tool of power, how artists and activists are making the sky their own, and their admiration for George Clooney. High & Low Bureau is a curatorial duo that explores the intersections between power, art, and activism. Their show Decolonized Skies, at Apex Art in New York City, brings together artworks that reappropriate the aerial view from the surveillance state.


California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have imposed restrictions on how law enforcement officers can use drones. The bill, AB1327, required police to obtain a warrant before flying surveillance drones. Gov. Brown said in a statement that the restrictions were too broad and the exceptions too narrow. Californian police officers opposed the legislation, arguing that the same rules that apply to helicopters should also apply to drones. (Wall Street Journal)

After vetoing restrictions on police drones, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that prohibits paparazzi from using drones. The prohibition is an amendment to a larger bill that expands privacy protections for celebrities and their children. (Business Insider)

The United Services Automobile Association has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the organization to use drones to collect aerial footage of accidents and disasters. USAA wants to test a drone outside of their headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. USAA is the first insurance company to ask the FAA for a drone flight permit. (Bloomberg)

The U.S. Military Inspector General, John T. Rymer, is suggesting that the Air Force may have purchased more Reaper drones than it needs. In a summary of a report released on Wednesday, Mr. Rymer stated that the Air Force might be unnecessarily spending $8.8 billion on 46 Reaper aircraft. In response, USAF officials said that the Inspector General’s figures were out of date. (Washington Post)

Yemen will purchase 12 ScanEagle surveillance drones from Boeing Insitu. The $11 million contract was announced by the U.S. Department of Defense on September 29. According to IHS Janes, the sale includes the aircraft systems as well as 12-month/3,600 flight-hour support and training package.

The German Minister of Defence has announced intentions to restart the country’s plan to acquire Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance drones. The $1.5 billion acquisition program has been dormant since last year, when public pushback forced the government to suspend its commitment. (Reuters)

A man in Cape May County, New Jersey, was arrested after he allegedly shot down a drone. The police were alerted by the pilot of the drone when he heard gunshots. After recovering the aircraft, the pilot discovered that it was punctured by multiple holes. Russell Percenti, a 32-year-old who lived nearby, was arrested and held on a $250 bail under criminal mischief and weapons charges. (NBC)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At Slate, Ava Lubell takes a look at the issue of airspace property in the wake of a rising number of drone shootings.

Drones have replaced guns as one of the most popular Google searches when users type “I want to buy a.” (New York Times)

At Forbes, Federico Guerrini describes his visit to Maker Faire in Rome, Italy.

At the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Alice Ross speaks with a former drone operator from Britain named Paul Rolfe. “I didn’t even realise I was stressed… I had my last sortie, I stepped away and the following day I came out in hives,” recalls Mr. Rolfe.

Meanwhile, at the Guardian, Ed Pilkington interviewed an American drone operator about what it is like to fly the Global Hawk surveillance drone.

The Government Accountability Office released a new report on drone use by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The document shows that CBP border patrol drones were used in the U.S. interior, away from border areas, for 1,726 flight hours from fiscal year 2011 to April 2014 (roughly 9% of total flying hours).

At the Washington Post, Brian Fung has made a visualization of the CBP’s “love affair with drones.”

Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo propose guidelines for responsible use of robots. “When a person fears for her safety, property, or privacy, the same self-help doctrines that govern other issues should govern a person’s use of self-help against a robot,” they say. (Volokh Conspiracy blog/Washington Post)

At Market Watch, Jennifer Booton predicts that drones will be a hot gift item this Christmas season.

At the Brookings Institute, Wells C. Bennett examines the responses by the federal government and state legislatures to the perceived privacy threat posed by drones.

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Navy has unveiled a fleet of unmanned boats that will be deployed within a year. The Navy tested the boats in a coordinated attack swarm simulation on the James River. (War is Boring)

A U.S. Army air squadron, which typically flies Apache attack helicopters, will soon add 12 new Shadow reconnaissance drones to their fleet of aircraft. (El Paso Times)

A Canadian startup has announced plans to build a user-friendly drone designed specifically for aerial filming that can be operated in swarms by a single pilot. (Wired)

The University of Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center showcased some of its latest research at a display for the news media. (New Observer)

Drones at Work

Police officers in Grand Forks, North Dakota used a drone in a police chase. The drone team was called in by the officers after the three men ran into a corn field and could not be located by a canine unit. (Valley News Live)

Meanwhile, in Virginia, police used a drone to help search for Hannah Graham, a student from the University of Virginia. Graham, 18, has been missing since September 13 and was last seen in the city of Charlottesville. (WTVR)

According to Jon Rimanelli, the chairman of Detroit Aircraft Corp., the Detroit Fire Department and other emergency response groups are considering buying drones. (Michigan Live)

A 24-year-old tourist was arrested and fined almost $500 for flying a drone around Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. (Daily Mail)

Drones were banned from the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico for safety reasons. (ABC News)

A United Arab Emirates company is using aerial drones to scan the RFID tags on steel products at its storage yards. (RFID Journal)

On “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” actor Tyler Perry raced ground drones with the host. (YouTube)

Meanwhile, competitors raced aerial drones “Star Wars style” through a dense forest in France. According to the video description on YouTube, the race is a regular event hosted by Airgonay, a “quadcopter racing fanatic association.”

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

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