Weekly Roundup 12/10/18

The New York Police Department has acquired 14 drones. Credit: NYPD

December 3, 2018 – December 9, 2018

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At the Center

In a PolicyWatch brief for the Washington Institute, Center for the Study of the Drone co-director Arthur Holland Michel explains how counter-drone technology works, why it’s in such high demand, and why it still faces numerous challenges moving forward.

Top Stories

A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, a senior Taliban commander in the southern Helmand province. In a statement, a U.S. military spokesperson confirmed that the strike was carried out by a drone. The operation comes at a time of increased U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. (The Wall Street Journal)

The New York Police Department has acquired a fleet of 14 drones. The drones, which are made by the Chinese company DJI, will be used for a variety of missions, including monitoring crowds and responding to emergency situations such as hazardous waste spills. Twenty nine officers have been trained to operate the aircraft. The NYPD is one of more than 900 public safety agencies in the country to acquire drones. (The New York Times) Co-director Dan Gettinger was interviewed for this story. For more on police drones, click here.

Alphabet’s drone delivery spinoff company Wing has announced that it will begin testing delivery drones in Finland. The company plans to deliver packages weighing up to 1.5 kilograms at a range of up to 10 kilometers. The project previously tested delivery drones in Australia. (TechCrunch)

Meanwhile, the Ghana Health Service is facing criticism for a project to use drones to deliver medicine and blood to remote areas. The minority party in the Ghanaian parliament has argued that the government’s contract with U.S. drone delivery firm Zipline is too expensive and that the project lacks appropriate oversight. In response, GHS Director Dr. Nsiah-Asare said that payment to Zipline would be contingent on the government’s satisfaction with the drone delivery services. (GhanaWeb)

Know Your Drone

In a joint program with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Sandia National Laboratories is developing machine learning-based software to detect small drones in video footage. (Defense News)

U.S. startup Sunflower Labs unveiled a home security system that pairs motion and vibration sensors with an autonomous surveillance drone. (The Verge)

U.S. firm Endeavor Robotics revealed new details about its Scorpion unmanned ground vehicle, a finalist system for the U.S. Army’s Common Robotic System-Individual program. (Shephard Media)

Russian defense firm Kalashnikov unveiled the ZALA Arctic, a surveillance drone optimized for operating in Arctic conditions. (TASS)

Defense firms Elbit Systems and Leonardo are jointly developing a light torpedo capability for the Elbit Seagull unmanned boat. (Jane’s)

Drone maker Mobile Recon Systems unveiled the Dauntless, an octocopter drone capable of carrying more than 200 pounds of payload. (GPS World)

Meanwhile, drone maker Drone Volt unveiled the Hercules 20, a heavy-lift multirotor drone for commercial applications. (Übergizmo)

A subsidiary of Ukraine’s state-run defence development firm Ukroboronprom unveiled the Spectator-M1, a surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (UNIAN)

A researcher from ETH Zürich is developing a system to use drones for motion capture animation. (New Atlas)

Drones at Work

The British Army deployed the Titan Strike, a machine gun-equipped unmanned ground vehicle, during its recent Autonomous Warrior military exercise. It was the service’s first exercise with an armed unmanned ground vehicle. (The Times)

Security forces deployed an ELTA Systems Drone Guard counter-drone system for security at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. (Times of Israel)

Drone maker AeroVironment and the U.S. National Park Service are using the company’s Quantix drone to assess the damage from the Woolsey Fire in California. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drone Delivery Canada is set to begin a pilot program to deliver packages and medical supplies by drone to remote Moose Cree First Nation communities in Ontario, Canada. (Aviation Week)

The U.K.’s Royal Air Force conducted an operational capability demonstration of an Aeryon SkyRanger drone for force protection at RAF base Akrotiri in Cyprus. (Shephard Media)

The Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has launched a month-long trial of the Marine Anti-Drone System. (GPS World)

The outgoing prosecutor of Cole County, Missouri has come under fire for purchasing two drones. (KMIZ)

A consortium of Chinese firms and research organizations has opened the Wanshan Unmanned Vessel Marine Test Site, a large testing facility near the Wanshan Islands. (Unmanned Systems technology)

European border control agency Frontex has deployed a Leonardo Falco EVO surveillance drone to Lampedusa, an island off the coast of Italy, as part of an evaluation program. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $26.7 million contract for MQ-9 Reaper contractor logistics services for the government of France. (DoD)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company a $5.2 million contract to design an MQ-9 Reaper training facility at Holloman Air Force Base. (FBO)

The European Maritime Safety Agency awarded Schiebel a contract to provide maritime surveillance services using the Camcopter S-100 drone. (AUVSI)

Poland’s Ministry of Defense awarded WZL-2 a $209 million contract for 40 Orlik PGZ-19R tactical drones, which are to be delivered beginning in 2021. (Defence24)

Meanwhile, Poland’s Ministry of Defense awarded WB Electronics a $2.7 million contract for 12 FlyEye drones for the Territorial Defense Forces. (Defence24)

Poland’s Ministry of Defense has re-started a program to procure six vertical take-off and landing micro-drone systems. (Defence24)

Poland’s Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements will deliver 18 robots to the Polish military over the next three years. (Defence24)

Germany’s Bundestag approved funding to extend the contracts for leased Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 drones for Bundeswehr operations in Afghanistan and Mali. (Jane’s)

Food delivery firm Zomato has acquired TechEagle Innovations, an Indian drone delivery startup. (Economic Times)

The government of Canada awarded GeoSpectrum Technologies a contract to initiate development of a Passive Autonomous Acoustic Surveillance System. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Foreign Policy, Lara Seligman writes that the U.S. Department of Defense is resisting the Trump administration’s wishes to sell a greater number of sophisticated drones overseas.

At Commercial Drone Professional, Alex Douglas looks into the different insurance options available for drone users.

In an interview with Inside Defense, Col. Andy Clark said that the Air Force’s manned U-2 Dragon Lady and unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk could be used to test the next-generation of reconnaissance technologies.

At The Atlantic, Rebecca Giggs writes that some birds are less than thrilled by the influx of drones in the airspace.

At the Mercatus Center, Brent Skorup considers the ways in which airspace regulators should manage new forms of transportation such as air taxis and drones.


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