Weekly Roundup 2/18/19

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a contract for several Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUV). Credit: Boeing

February 11, 2019 – February 17, 2019

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Top Stories

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will begin requiring drone owners to display their registration numbers on the exterior of any unmanned aircraft they operate. Previously, the identification numbers could be stored inside the battery compartment. According to the FAA, the move comes at the request of law enforcement agencies concerned about the possibility of encountering concealed explosive devices when opening the aircraft. (Reuters)

The U.S. Department of Defense has unveiled a new strategy for developing and deploying artificial intelligence. The policy calls for a concerted effort to accelerate the use of AI for a range of near-term applications such as intelligence analysis and maintenance planning. It was released in tandem with an executive order creating a government-wide AI strategy. (Military Times)

In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, U.K. Minister of Defence Gavin Williamson announced that the U.K. would create a squadron to operate swarming drones. Williamson said the “network-enabled” drones would be used to overwhelm enemy air defenses. (BBC)

In the wake of recent reported drone sightings at various major airports, DJI announced that it is updating its geo-fencing software, which automatically prevents its drones from flying into restricted airspaces. According to the company, the Geospatial Environment Online 2.0 system will create “three-dimensional ‘bow tie’ safety zones surrounding runway flight paths” instead of simple circular exclusion zones. (TechCrunch)

FLIR Systems announced that it will acquire Endeavor Robotics, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of military robots, for an estimated $385 million. Previously known as iRobot Defense and Security, Endeavor is perhaps best known for its explosive ordnance disposal systems. The deal is FLIR’s second acquisition of an unmanned systems company this year. (C4ISRNET)

Know Your Drone

U.S. firm Kratos Defense & Security Solutions announced that it is developing a classified tactical surveillance and reconnaissance drone, the Aethon, for an undisclosed customer. (FlightGlobal)

The University of South Florida held its inaugural Brain-Drone Race, in which participants competed using drones controlled by their mental electrical signals. (AUVSI)

In a demonstration for the U.S. Marine Corps, a Planck Aerosystems autonomous drone conducted several take-offs and landings from a platform on a moving off-road vehicle in near total darkness. (AUVSI)

U.S. drone maker AeroVironment unveiled a new version of the Quantix, a vertical take-off and landing drone for commercial applications. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Training systems provider Simlat unveiled a simulation software program for counter-drone operations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Drones at Work

The Houthi group in Yemen shot down a German-made Luna surveillance and reconnaissance drone near the border with Saudi Arabia. (Jane’s)

An Israeli drone reportedly fired four missiles at a location near an army observation post in Syria’s Quneitra province. The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the alleged operation. (Middle East Eye)

Flights at Dubai International Airport were grounded briefly after reports of drone activity in the area. (Reuters)

The U.K’s Ordnance Survey, a state-owned mapping firm, has announced that it will begin a test program to use Astigan high-altitude pseudo-satellite drones to collect high-resolution imagery for commercial applications. (BBC) For more on high-altitude drones, click here.

The U.S. Air Force formally split Creech Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base in order to expand its support capabilities for U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone operations at Creech. (Air Force Times)

The Israeli Air Force’s “First Zik” Squadron, its largest drone unit, marked its 20th anniversary. (defense-unmanned.com)

Georgia’s Senate Public Safety Committee has approved a bill that would create no-drone zones around all detention facilities in the state. (Government Technology)

A small drone crashed into a high-rise in Chicago, breaking a window on the 27th floor. The operator has not been identified. (Drone Below)

Industry Intel

Israeli firm Aeronautics announced that it has finalized a $13 million contract with Azerbaijan involving maintenance for the Orbiter 1K drone. (The Jerusalem Post)

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $43 million contract modification for four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles and support elements. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Canadian Commercial Corporation a $11.4 million contract for unmanned aerial vehicle support services. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation a $9.8 million contract for the LOCUST drone swarm program. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Hydroid a $7 million contract modification for work on the MK18 Kingfish unmanned undersea vehicle. (UPI)

The U.S. Navy awarded Seemans Composites a $9.1 million contract to evaluate Navy unmanned underwater vehicles launch and recovery needs. (DoD)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has acquired the Penguin C from UAV Factory, a Latvian company. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Switzerland’s Wingtra announced that it has partnered with Blinken AS, Norway to provide drones for survey and construction firms. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Elroy Air, a San Francisco-based startup that develops cargo drones, announced that it has finalized a $9.2 million seed funding round. (Venture Beat)

Makani Power, a firm that develops electricity-generating kites, will become an Alphabet subsidiary company after an investment from Shell. (engadget)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At C4ISRNET, Mike Gruss writes that an accident involving the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton may in fact improve confidence in autonomous systems in the long term.

At The Drive, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway reflect that the U.K.’s new plan to field a swarm of drones is the latest sign that “high-end networked drones are going to begin taking on the toughest air combat missions.”

At CNET, Stephen Shankland identifies some of the drone companies that could stand to gain from increased U.S border security funding.

At Air Force Times, Kyle Rempfer writes that a dropped signal link has been identified as the cause of a 2017 MQ-1 Predator crash in Turkey.

At the Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski offers a few takeaways from U.S. military’s new effort on artificial intelligence.

A whitepaper released by drone firm PrecisionHawk and market analysis company Skylogic Research examines the potential cost savings that can be achieved by using drones to inspect utility infrastructure. (UAS Magazine)

At Jane’s, Pat Host examines a proposal that the U.S. Navy incorporate unmanned combat aircraft into carrier air wings.

In a post on the U.S. Army’s website, Mark Schauer considers the significance of a recent test of the Airbus Zephyr high-altitude drone at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground.

At GoDanRiver.com, James Whitlow writes that the Danville Police Department’s new drone could help officers with investigations.

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