Weekly Roundup 12/9/19

December 2, 2019 – December 8, 2019

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In an article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Center for the Study of the Drone co-director Dan Gettinger looks at how Turkey’s rise as a drone power reflects key trends in military drone proliferation.

For more on drone proliferation, see The Drone Databook.

Top Stories

The U.S. military announced that it believes a Russian air defense system was responsible for downing a U.S. military drone in Libya last month. In a statement to Reuters, Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of U.S. Africa Command, said that the air defense system was likely operated by either Russian mercenaries or a Libyan group allied with Russia that mistook the U.S. aircraft for a drone flown by another party to the conflict. The U.S. has demanded that the wreckage of the unmanned aircraft be returned.

A television news station in Los Angeles said that one of its helicopters may have been struck by a drone in mid-flight. The pilot of the KABC-TV helicopter reported hearing an object strike the rear of the aircraft, which showed signs of damage upon inspection. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident. (NBC News)

The International Organization for Standardization has issued its first International Standards for commercial drone operations. The document outlines a range of requirements for safety management systems, insurance, airspace compliance, data protection, and drone identification and registration. (Press Release)

Malaysian firm Aerodyne Group has acquired a controlling stake in the services division of Measure UAS, a Washington D.C.-based drone software and services provider. A new entity, Aerydone Measure, will provide aerial infrastructure inspection services to energy sector clients in North America. Measure UAS will continue to operate independently as a drone software provider. (Digital News Asia)

Know Your Drone

At an urban combat exercise in New York City this summer, the U.S. Army tested a robot that soldiers can operate using hand gestures. (Army Times)

A team at the Tokyo Metropolitan University has developed a quadruped robot that can climb ladders. (C4ISRNET)

Russian military exporter Rosoboronexport unveiled a four-stage counter-drone system. (Jane’s)

Spanish firm Aertec Solutions unveiled an armable variant of its Tarsis 25 fixed-wing drone. (Jane’s)

An image posted to Chinese social media appears to show a signals intelligence variant of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s Gongji-2 surveillance and strike drone. (Jane’s)

The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract to aerospace firm Bell to redesign part of the service’s MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter drone so that it can potentially carry weapons. (FlightGlobal)

Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency unveiled the Xentinel, a prototype vehicle-mounter counter-drone system. (The Straits Times)

Drones at Work

An apparent attempted drone strike targeted the home of the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi city of Najaf. No casualties were reported. (Reuters)

European airspace firm Airbus and Chinese agricultural technology firm XAG have launched a limited drone delivery pilot program in Guangzhou, China. (UAS Weekly)

The city of Daejeon, South Korea is launching a pilot program to use drones for emergency response operations. (Smart Cities World)

Police in Gloucestershire in the U.K. are investigating an incident in which a pregnant ewe appears to have died from shock after a drone passed overhead. (Gloucestershire Live)

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided not to require U.S. nuclear plants to install counter-drone defense systems. (Arms Control Association)

Texas Game Wardens used drones to aid in the search for a 74 year-old man suffering from dementia who had gone missing. (25 ABC)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems a $13.1 million contract modification for the experimental High Energy Laser Weapon System for use against drones. (DoD)

Skyports, a U.K.-based urban mobility and drone delivery startup, raised £5 million in a Series A funding round. (TechEU)

Drone startup GRYFN has partnered with Purdue University on research into the genetic improvement and production of sorghum crops for biofuel. (droneLife)

Drone Aviation, a manufacturer of tethered drones, has merged with ComSovereign, a U.S.-based telecommunications firm. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment has reportedly awarded Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace a contract to provide a counter-drone system to the German Armed Forces. (Army Technology)

Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense released a white paper detailing plans to acquire new drones. (New Straits Times)

French drone maker Parrot has partnered with Kittyhawk to integrate the Kittyhawk Air Control system into its ANAFI drone family of products. (droneLife)

Two drone insurance providers, SkyWatch.AI and ParaZero, have partnered to reduce costs for drone pilots using the SafeAir Parachute. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At The Guardian, Michael Safi examines the future roles that drone swarms could play in warfareCenter co-director Dan Gettinger provided commentary for this story.

In a picture essay at The Guardian, Stefanie Glinski explores the toll that drone strikes have taken on families in Afghanistan.

At Jane’s, Kelvin Wong describes China’s recent advances in unmanned undersea systems.

At FlightGlobal, Garrett Reim reports that AeroVironment is working to upgrade the Switchblade loitering munition so it can compete with Israeli systems.

At Wired, Rhett Allain explains how to calculate the thrust force of a consumer drone.

In an op-ed for C4ISRNET, George Kamis examines the challenges of securing new technologies like drones against cyber intrusions.

Research and surveys by the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that just 23 percent of adults in the U.K. are in favor of drone deliveries. (Aviation Week)

In an interview with Business Insider, Tom Moss discusses why he went from working on smart phones at Google to developing autonomous drones at Skydio.

 

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