Weekly Roundup 12/30/19

December 23, 2019 – December 29, 2019

Top Stories

Days after announcing that it had armed its MQ-9 Reaper drones, France carried out its first drone strike. The strike occurred during a two-day battle between French special forces and Islamist militants in central Mali. Three French Reapers armed with GBU-12 bombs are based in Niamey, Niger. (Agence France-Presse)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration unveiled its proposal for identifying and tracking all drones flying in the national airspace. The Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems rule would require all drones to be equipped with a technology that would emit a particular signal, enabling air traffic controllers and law enforcement to determine whether the drone poses a security risk. The proposed rule would take three years to implement and could allow regulators to approve more complex drone operations such as deliveries. (New York Times)

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a request for information for a system that pairs artificial intelligence with drone swarms for search and rescue missions. (Nextgov)

Chinese drone maker DJI released a patent for a four-wheeled remote-control camera car. (DroneDJ)

The U.S. Air Force destroyed a target drone in the first successful live fire test of an AGR-20A APKWS laser-guided rocket from an F-16 fighter jet. (C4ISRNET)

Drones at Work

According to a report in state-run media networks, Syria’s Oil Ministry suspects that drones were used in a coordinated attack on government-run oil and gas facilities in central Syria. (Associated Press)

Police and residents in rural Colorado reported mysterious flights of a group of unidentified mid-sized drones. (Denver Post)

In partnership with NASA, U.S. military drone manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will fly the Sky Guardian drone over San Diego next year to map critical infrastructure. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Police in Singapore plan on deploying drones and robots to provide security for the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2020 party. (Straits Times)

Industry Intel

Pyka, a startup that is building large crop-spraying drones, raised $11 million in a seed funding round led by Prime Movers Lab. (TechCrunch)

Meanwhile, XAG, a Chinese company that specializes in agricultural drones, estimates that its domestic sales could double to 50,000 drones in 2020 amid a push by Beijing for larger farms and better farming technology. (Bloomberg)

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $327.2 million contract for contractor logistics support for the MQ-9 Reaper. (DoD)

Boeing Insitu will deliver a ScanEagle system comprising of six aircraft and associated equipment to the Brazilian Navy in 2020. (Jane’s)

South Korea has taken delivery of the first of four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 surveillance drones. (Yonhap News Agency)

Germany’s parliament voted down a measure to acquire armed drones. (Shephard Media)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the Wall Street Journal, Jimmy Vielkind writes that a drone test site in central New York is rejuvenating the state’s aerospace industry.

At the MIT Technology Review, Karen Hao argues that it’s past time for companies to take more significant actions when regarding ethics and artificial intelligence.