Weekly Roundup 10/9/17

A drone unit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation spent 16 days in Puerto Rico inspecting power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Credit: NY DEC

October 2, 2017 – October 8, 2017

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A U.S. drone strike in Yemen reportedly killed a local al-Qaeda commander. According to Agence-France Presse, Shroum al-Sanaani was killed while traveling in Baida province. (AFP)

A second U.S. drone strike in Yemen reportedly killed five suspected members of al-Qaeda. According to Reuters, the strike took place in Marib province and targeted a vehicle.

Houthi rebels claim to have shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in Yemen. Video released by the rebel forces appears to confirm the presence of what looks like a downed Reaper drone. In a statement to Military Times, U.S. Central Command confirmed that a Reaper was shot down in western Yemen. (Defense News)

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a crash involving a drone and a U.S. Army helicopter. The federal safety agency has already interviewed the owner of the drone, which hit the the Army Black Hawk helicopter on September 21 as the helicopter was performing security-related operations for the United Nations General Assembly. (Associated Press)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

A panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies discussed Russia’s development of unmanned systems.

At Lexology, several lawyers from Clyde&Co discuss why they think a recent court decision regarding local drone laws is significant.

At Popular Mechanics, Joe Pappalardo writes that NOAA’s hurricane-hunting drone program is out of money.

At Just Security, Ryan Goodman argues that the laws of war do apply in those areas beyond hot war zones where the U.S. conducts drone strikes.

Also at Just Security, Daphne Eviatar argues that easing Obama-era rules on drone strikes would be a “serious mistake.”

Two tech enthusiasts are suing the founder of the Drone Racing League, claiming that he stole their idea for drone racing. (Law.com)

At the Bismarck Tribune, April Baumgarten considers why North Dakota may be seeing an increase in drone registrations.

At the MIT Technology Review, Elizabeth Woyke writes that while some colleges are pushing students to learn how to fly drones, it is not clear whether those skills translate into jobs.

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Army is currently testing ten different unmanned ground vehicles under its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport program, which seeks to develop a robotic mule that can accompany troops on the ground. (Shephard Media)

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has initiated a program called Directed Energy Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems that will develop laser and microwave-based counter-drone systems. (Jane’s)

In a demonstration, Israel Aerospace Industries demonstrated how its Air Hopper helicopter drone prototype could be used to airlift wounded soldiers from the battlefield. (FlightGlobal)

Australian firm Ocius Technology was awarded an innovation award for its Bluebottle wind and solar-powered unmanned surface vessel, which could be used to patrol maritime borders. (SBS)

U.K. firm Cambridge Consultants has developed a system by which a drone delivers items directly to customers’ hands, rather than to a home address. (Digital Trends)

Chinese drone maker DJI has launched its Local Data Mode, which disconnects the user’s drone from the Internet and prevents flight data from being automatically uploaded to the company’s servers. (Engadget)

Defense firm Leonardo DRS is developing a counter-drone system for the U.S. Army. (Aviation Week)

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a micro-drone that can attach itself to surfaces with a tethered magnetic anchor. (IEEE Spectrum)

Camera maker Polaroid unveiled four branded consumer drones that range in price from $50 to over $300. (Digital Trends) 

Drones at Work

A researcher in the Arctic is using Intel multirotor drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras to track polar bear populations. (ZDNet)

A recently released Michigan State Police report shows that drones were used to smuggle contraband into a prison in the state for several months without being detected. (Associated Press)

The Orchard Park Town Council in New York voted in favor of a resolution to rescind a drone ordinance that it adopted in 2015. (WGRZ)

The Indian Central Reserve Police Force has relocated a command centre for surveillance drones to south Bastar to support operations against the Maoist Naxalite group. (Economic Times)

The Washington State Patrol announced that it has used its crash scene investigation drones 20 times since acquiring the systems in July. (KING5)

An Israel Defense Forces surveillance drone crashed during an operation in the southern Gaza Strip. (The Times of Israel)

A Marine Corps unit has established a counter-drone working group ahead of an upcoming deployment to various locations in the Middle East. (Military Times)

Authorities in Kuwait arrested an Egyptian man for attempting to smuggle contraband into a prison with a drone. (GDN Online)

Industry Intel

Boeing has acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, a Virginia-based company that specializes in unmanned and autonomous systems. (Aviation Week)

The U.S. Army awarded AAI Corp. a $41.9 million contract modification for 36 Block III kits for the RQ-7 Shadow tactical drone. (DoD)

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a $8.4 million contract for engineering work on the RQ-5 Hunter UAS and the rehabilitation of 10 ground control stations. (DoD)

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $10.2 million contract to stand up an organic depot support capability for the MQ-9 at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. (DoD)

The Missile Defense Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $9.4 million contract to integrate and test a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $66.3 million contract for test and maintenance services for the MQ-4C Triton. (DoD)

The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $130.5 million contract to initiate the procurement of the Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance drone for the government of Japan. (DoD)


The U.S. Air Force awarded Black River a $1.6 million contract for unmanned aircraft systems for asymmetric cyber applications. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded Stellar Exploration a $1.4 million contract for “autonomous drone defense.” (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Chase Supply a $1.7 million contract for Waveguide Nitrogen Hand trucks for the MQ-4C Triton. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded Endeavor Robotics a $158.5 million contract for the Man-Transportable Robotic System Increment II (MTRS II), a mid-sized robot. (Jane’s)

Northrop Grumman reported an increase in orders for its Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) system to support counter-drone missions. (Jane’s)

Israel Aerospace Industries and Brazil’s Avionics Services will begin seeking civilian customers for the Caçador, a variant of the IAI Heron 1 drone. (Flight Global)

Rheinmetall and Paravan have partnered to work on the development of semi- and fully autonomous systems for military and civilian customers. (Shephard Media)

The BIRD Foundation awarded U.S.-based Mantaro Networks and Beeper Communications Israel a $900,000 grant to develop robots for first responders. (The Times of Israel)

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