Weekly Roundup 2/26/18

At the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, which closed last week, Intel Corporation set a new record for the number of drones flying in a co-ordinated swarm. Credit: Intel Corporation

We have tweaked the format of our Weekly Roundup newsletter. Commentary, Analysis, and Art will now appear as the final section each week. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about our Roundup, please do not hesitate to let us know at [email protected].

February 19, 2018 – February 25, 2018

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

As concerns grow around the potential security threat of drones, a new market for counter-drone technology is rapidly emerging, but a host of difficult practical questions remain unanswered. A new report published by the Center for the Study of the Drone describes how the technology works, presents our database of over 230 counter-drone products available on the market, and addresses these challenges.

Top Stories

A U.S. drone strike in Somalia reportedly killed several suspected members of al-Shabab. According to Voice of America, the strike targeted a rickshaw near the town of Jamaame in southern Somalia.

The European Aviation Safety Agency published a proposal for regulating drones that weigh up to 55 pounds. The proposed rules list a number of operations that don’t require authorization, including line-of-sight recreational flights, aerial photography, and inspections. The European Commission is set to take up the proposal later this year. (Associated Press)  

A report released by the U.S. Department of Interior details nearly 5,000 drone operations undertaken by the department in 2017, including firefighting missions, dam and spillway monitoring, and wildlife mapping. The rate of flights marks an 82 percent jump in operations over the previous year. (Wall Street Journal)

Know Your Drone

Samsung has been awarded a patent for a screen-equipped drone that can be controlled with the user’s eyes, head, or hands. (The Verge)

Telecom firm Vodafone has begun testing a wireless airspace control system for small drones in Germany and Spain. (The Guardian)

Lockheed Martin launched VCSi, a software package that allows users to operate dozens of unmanned vehicles simultaneously. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

UTC Aerospace Systems announced that the New York Air National Guard successfully completed an operational assessment of its DB-110 high resolution sensor aboard the MQ-9 Reaper. (Press Release)

Airbus has released a video showing the first flight test of its personal transportation drone prototype. (Engadget)

U.S. firm Endeavor Robotics revealed new information about the Centaur unmanned ground vehicle, which the U.S. Army has chosen for its MTRS Inc II program. (Jane’s)

Dronemaker UKRSPECSystems released an upgrade kit that turns its PD-1 fixed-wing data collection drone into a vertical take-off and landing drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

A team of students from the the University of Colorado Boulder and the Cetacean Echolocation Translation Initiative are designing a drone to search for whales during whale language translation studies. (CBS Denver)

U.S. drone maker Harris Aerial unveiled the Carrier H4, a hybrid gas electric multirotor drone. (Drone Life)

A student at Özyeğin University in Turkey has reportedly received over 15,000 orders for a small quadcopter drone that he designed for educational activities. (Hürriyet Daily News)

Sensors firm Aerialtronics unveiled  a new version of the PENSAR, dual spectrum camera equipped with automated processing capabilities. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

India’s Defence Research and Development Organization completed a successful test flight of its Rustom 2 medium-altitude long-endurance drone. (Economic Times)

Drones at Work

U.S. firm Duke Energy has been using drones to help install power lines as part of the recovery effort in Puerto Rico. (Fast Company)

The Chiloquin Vector Control District in Oregon has announced a plan to begin using drones for mosquito control operations. (Herald and News)

Two animal rights groups in South Carolina claim that three drones they were using to film a local pigeon hunting event were shot down by hunters. (The Times and Democrat)

Police in Petersburg, Virginia have acquired three new drones for operations. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Meanwhile, the Waterloo Regional Police in California have presented a plan to acquire a drone for crash scene investigations, search and rescue, and suspect pursuit. (Cambridge Times)

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada used a drone to search the site of a single-prop airplane crash. (Reno Gazette Journal)

The Columbia Fire Department in Tennessee has established a drone program for emergency operations. (News Channel 5 Network)

The U.S Army is planning to deploy a fleet of armed MQ-1C Gray Eagle surveillance and strike drones to an air base in Gunsan, South Korea. (Chosun)

The Reed City Council in Michigan is using an existing local privacy ordinance to restrict the use of drones over private property. (Cadillac NewsFor more on local drone laws, click here.

Serbian police are reportedly holding two U.S. citizens for allegedly using a drone to capture footage over a military facility in Belgrade. Two Ukrainian nationals who were also arrested for drone flights have been released. (Associated Press)

U.S. firm Bihrle Applied Research and BNSF Railway announced that they have used computer vision software to automate the processing of tens of thousands of images from a railroad inspection operation. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Industry Intel

DARTdrones, a Pennsylvania-based company that trains drone pilots, is pledging $100,000 in grants to train operators at public safety departments. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Team UAV has partnered with PDG Aviation Services to integrate drones into PDG’s aerial survey and inspection operations. (Commercial Drone Professional)

The Indonesian Navy will take delivery of four Insitu ScanEagle drones in mid-2018. (Jane’s)

In a speech in Ankara, President Erdoğan announced that Turkey will take delivery of new unmanned ground vehicles for military operations in northwestern Syria. (Yeni Şafak)

In a bid for the FAA’s drone Integration Pilot Program, the City of Reno, Nevada has partnered with Flirtey to accelerate drone deliveries of automated external defibrillators. (Northern Nevada Business Weekly)

The City of Louisville, Kentucky won a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to test a system that uses drones to respond to gunshots. (WFPL)

GRIFF Aviation won a $2 million grant from the Research Council of Norway to study the use of shipboard drones. (Press Release)

NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s primary mobile phone operators, launched a new business initiative aimed at expediting complex commercial drone operations. (Japan Today)

Meanwhile, Nokia is engaged in discussions with an Australian university to create a framework for commercial drone operations in Australia. (ZDNet)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Aviation Week, Graham Warwick runs through the Center for the Study of the Drone’s report on counter-drone systems.

At Policy Options, Kristen Thomasen explores the implications for privacy of increased drone operations.  

At Air Force Magazine, Brian Everstine writes that the U.S. Air Force should look for ways to reduce the number of people required to operate drones and improve efficiency.

At National Defense Magazine, Jon Harper writes that the U.S. Marine Corps are very supportive of using conversion kits that can transform manned aircraft into autonomous, self-flying vehicles as a way to reduce the risk and cost of resupplying remote bases.

Drone Wars UK published new data obtained from the Ministry of Defense regarding U.K. manned and unmanned air operations in Iraq and Syria.

In a webinar hosted by Insurance Journal, industry experts argued that the drone insurance sector would grow significantly over the next 50 years.

At AUVSI, Richard Tuttle considers the challenges of standardizing the U.S. military’s fleet of unmanned ground vehicles.  

At DefenseTech, Richard Sisk writes that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is not a fan of using the term “unmanned aerial vehicle” to describe drones.

At Mainebiz, Laurie Schreiber looks at how a growing number of drone companies are impacting different industries in Maine.

At the Star Tribune, Todd Nelson explores the boundaries of legal drone flight possibilities in Minnesota.

At Drone Business Center, Travis Moran argues that it is important that law enforcement agencies adopt counter-drone policies as soon as possible.

At the New York Times, Cade Metz explores the risks associated with the falling cost of artificial intelligence.

At PetaPixel, photographer Joey L. explains how he used drones to capture aerial footage of the conflict in Iraq.

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler previews the fourth-annual New York Drone Film Festival, which is set to take place on March 3.

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