Weekly Roundup 11/10

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

As military drones proliferate, countries are rushing to figure out ways to blast them out of the sky. Lasers have emerged as an effective anti-drone device, though there are other weapons in the pipeline. Here’s what you need to know.


A U.S. drone strike in Syria reportedly killed David (Daoud) Drugeon, a high-ranking member of the Khorasan Group. The French-born Drugeon, 24, was thought to be the lead bombmaker for Khorasan. In a statement, the Department of Defense said that it had struck five Khorasan Group targets on the same day using a combination of manned and unmanned aircraft. (Fox News)

In Yemen, three suspected U.S. drone strikes reportedly killed between 10 and 20 people, including Shawki Ali Ahmed al Badani, a commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Nabil al Dhahab, the AQAP emir for Yemen’s Baydah province. In a statement, AQAP confirmed the deaths of the two leaders. The drones targeted the positions of Ansar al-Sharia, a local militant group allied with AQAP. Al-Badani was reportedly the target of a drone strike that mistakenly hit a wedding party in December 2013. (Long War Journal)

At a press briefing, President Obama announced that he intends to expand the Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The update to the 2001 law would provide a legal basis for the continued American military action against ISIS. The AUMF was passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and has served as the legal rationale for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. (The Washington Post)

Three people with drones were arrested near a nuclear power plant in Cher, a region in central France. There appears to be no connection between this incident and the series of mysterious drone fly-overs of nuclear power plants in France that took place last month, according to the Guardian. The paper reports that there may have been as many as 13 of these unsolved drone flights, five more than were initially reported.

During the Second Intifada, the Palestinian Authority was able to intercept the video feeds from Israeli drones, the Times of Israel reported. The hacked drone feeds allowed the Palestinians to dodge several attempted assassinations of Hamas commanders.

Anti-war activists converged on an Air National Guard base in Battle Creek, Michigan to protest the American targeted killing campaign in Pakistan and Yemen. The demonstration was coordinated by Battle Creek’s Voices for Peace and Peace House Kalamazoo. Last year, after the A-10 Thunderbolt II manned jet aircraft was phased out, the Air Force decided that pilots from Kellogg Air Base will be trained to fly MQ-9 Reapers. (Battle Creek Enquirer)

A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of flying a drone near a fireworks display in Manchester, England, where an estimated 30,000 people were gathered. It is a violation of the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Act to fly a remote-controlled aircraft above a crowd of over 1,000 people without permission. (BBC)

A drone operated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was targeted by anti-aircraft fire during a surveillance flight over eastern Ukraine. The OSCE drone was monitoring a military convoy at the Russian border. The aircraft avoided the barrage and landed safety. (OSCE)

Poland announced that it will purchase drones as part of a push to modernize its military. Warsaw is in negotiations with American manufacturers to acquire reconnaissance and combat drones by 2019. ”We will use these drones to defend our territory,” said Deputy Defence Minister Czeslaw Mroczek in an interview with AFP.

Australian safety officials issued a warning that hobbyists who fly drones near bushfires could impede the work of firefighting air crews. (ABC)

According to state-run news agency IRNA, an Iranian copy of a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone made its first test-flight. Earlier this year, Iranian officials announced that they had successfully reverse engineered the drone. The Lockheed Martin Sentinel, a highly secretive reconnaissance aircraft, was captured by Iran in December 2011. (Reuters)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At Vice News, Gohar Mehsud describes how a crashed American drone was divvied up by Pakistani villagers and sold for parts to the government and the Taliban.

Also at Vice News, Jason Leopold publishes new documents obtained from the FBI on Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

At Motherboard, Ben Makuch argues that China’s new anti-drone laser “hints at a coming arms race.”

At Foreign Policy, Daniel Rothenberg interviews a drone pilot: “Things are a little more personal in an RPA than in an aircraft that’s up for just a few hours.”

At Drone Wars, Chris Cole considers the role that drones play in British and American airstrikes against the Islamic State.

Just Security blog posted video footage of an October 28 panel discussion with Shaheed Fatima, Harold Koh, and Ryan Goodman on whether international human rights law should apply to the use of drones.

At National Defense Magazine, Yasmin Tadjdeh writes that the FAA could release a critical ruling on small drones by the end of the year.

At Defense One, Patrick Tucker considers the Pentagon’s push to develop anti-drone technologies.

Also at Defense One, Michael Auerbach questions why the U.S. military isn’t using supply drones to help combat the spread of Ebola.

At The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor argues that China’s growing fleets of drones matter more than its new anti-drone laser cannon.

John C. Jarvis, a graduate student at Southern Illinois University, published a report on the legal and ethical implications of using drones for journalism.

Meanwhile, at Robohub, Matthew Shroyer argues that Australia’s emerging drone regulations will benefit journalists.

At CNET, Rich Trenholm writes that more permissive laws in Europe allow greater growth in the drone industry than in the United States.

At iRevolution, Patrick Meier considers the “fears, concerns and opportunities” of using humanitarian drones in conflict zones.

Know Your Drone

BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation won a $190 million research contract from the British and French governments to develop an unmanned fighter jet that could replace the fourth-generation manned fighter jets of today. The joint Anglo-French project to develop a “Future Combat Aircraft System” will last two years. (The Telegraph)

For DARPA, HRL Laboratories’ Center for Neural and Emergent Systems is testing a micro-drone that has a brain-like computer chip that allows it to learn about its environment autonomously. (MIT Technology Review)

Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, revealed a variant of the popular ScanEagle drone, a small reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. (Flight Global)

For more on why the Scan Eagle matters, click here.

Flite Test has built a multicopter drone that can serve as an airborne runway for smaller drones. (Endgadget)

Drone company SkySense has unveiled a drone landing pad that doubles as a wireless charging station. (Gizmag)

Imperial College London announced that it will build an advanced aerial robotics lab with a glass testing space that allows passersby to see live drone tests. (The Guardian)

Tech entrepreneur Jay Bregman has announced plans to create a company that builds software that keeps drones from violating air safety regulations. (CNET)

The U.S. Navy wants autonomous, fast-acting and cheap underwater drones. (National Defense Magazine)

BIZZBY, a London-based startup, hopes to create a drone-on-demand system for aerial deliveries and errands. (Telegraph)

Backcountry Drones is developing a drone that is 3D printed, portable, and autonomous. Its design will allow hikers to bring the drone along to photograph their activities.

Drones at Work

A man built a fleet of drones that he says could be used to help aid search and rescue operations. (WMC Action News 5)

Residents of a San Jose neighborhood are complaining that a multi-rotor drone has been flying in the area. (CBS Local)

Naval Drones blog takes a look at a private security company that provides drone surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to combat piracy.

Iran continues to use the Chukar II, a 40-year-old American target drone leftover from the days of the Shah, to help train pilots. (War is Boring)

The Federal Aviation Administration shut down high school students’ plan to use drones to shoot videos of their school football team in Cary, North Carolina. (New Observer)

The German media group Luftzug.tv used a drone to make an eerie video of Soviet-era fighter planes at a military museum in Berlin. (The Aviationist)

At an elementary school in Virginia, legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin sat down with students to build a drone. (WTOP)

Police in Abu Dhabi used a drone to help save a window washer whose platform malfunctioned. Police said that after the fault in the cleaning cradle was identified using the drone’s cameras and microphone, emergency crews were able to talk the man through how to fix it and get him down safety.  (Seven Days in Dubai)

And last but not least, Drone Boning is an aerial art-house sex video; some are calling it the first ever drone porn (Warning: Not Safe for Work)

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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