Weekly Roundup 2/4/19

The U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter unmanned surface vehicle autonomously navigated a round-trip journey from California to Hawaii. Credit: Department of Defense

January 28, 2019 – February 3, 2019

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Top Stories

A U.S. airstrike in Somalia killed at least 24 members of al-Shabaab. In a statement, U.S. Africa Command said that the strike targeted a training camp near Shebeeley. It is unclear whether the strike was carried out by drones. (Al Jazeera)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration created a “no drone zone” within 30 nautical miles of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. In a statement, a spokesperson for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said that the stadium had been “inundated” with drones in the days leading up to the match. (The Verge)

FLIR Systems has acquired Canadian drone maker Aeryon Labs for $200 million as part of an ongoing effort to expand its portfolio of small military drone manufacturers. Aeryon specializes in heavy-duty multirotor drones for security and defense applications. (CBC News)

The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel has proposed new regulations for recreational and commercial drone operators. Under the proposed regulations, all drone operators will be required to register their aircraft and pass an online knowledge test. The draft rules will now be submitted to a public comment period. (Globes)

Meanwhile, Israel’s Ministry of Defense temporarily suspended the export permits for several senior executives at Israeli drone maker Aeronautics. The company is the subject of an ongoing law enforcement investigation into whether its personnel were involved in an alleged drone strike in Azerbaijan. (i24 News)

Australia’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority is installing at various airports a drone detection system made by DJI, a Chinese drone maker. In a statement, Andrew Hastie, a member of parliament and chair of the joint intelligence committee, objected to using DJI’s technology on the grounds that it may not be secure. (Sydney Morning Herald)

The Venezuelan military has reportedly detained a retired army colonel accused of leading the attempted drone attack on President Nicolás Maduro last year. Garcia Palomo was arrested after entering the country from Colombia, where he was living in exile. In August, a pair of explosive-laden drones detonated near a military parade at which the president was speaking. (Agence-France Presse)

Know Your Drone

Latitude Engineering, a subsidiary of defense firm L3 Technologies, has been granted a design patent for an ultra long-endurance take-off and landing drone. (C4ISRNET)

Robot vacuum maker iRobot unveiled the Terra, an autonomous unmanned lawn mower. (Associated Press)

Airspace firm Bell has begun flight tests for a new variant of its Autonomous Pod Transport, a large vertical take-off and landing drone under development for a NASA airspace integration program. (Aviation Week)

In a test mission, the U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter, a 132-foot-long unmanned ship, autonomously navigated a round-trip journey from California to Hawaii. (Press Release)

Iran’s Air Force unveiled the Saegheh-2, a combat stealth drone that appears to be an updated variant of the original Saegheh, which was based on a captured U.S. stealth drone. (Jane’s)

Meanwhile, the Iranian Air Force also unveiled the Khodkar, a wide-body jet-powered surveillance drone based on the T-33 training aircraft. (Press TV)

Drone Delivery Canada has begun flight tests of a new drone model, the Falcon, which is capable of carrying up to 23 kg of cargo over a distance of up to 60 km. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

U.S. firm Silvus Technologies has unveiled an anti-jamming system for its StreamCaster Mobile Ad-hoc Network, which is used aboard a variety of drones and unmanned ground vehicles. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command has successfully completed integration of two mine-hunting unmanned underwater vehicles aboard the USS Independence, a Littoral Combat Ship. (AUVSI)

The U.S. Army announced that it is slated to begin testing M113 armored personnel carriers that have been converted into unmanned ground vehicles. (Jane’s)

Chinese firm Star UAV System will begin operational tests and evaluation for its AT200 cargo drone with SF Express, an international courier that will be the system’s first customer. (Jane’s)

Russian research and production firm Micran has reportedly conducted a successful test of various weapons systems from the Karnivora, a small surveillance, strike, and counter-UAV drone. (TASS)

Drone maker Airobotics has announced that it is integrating LiDAR sensors aboard its range of commercial data collection drones. (Robotics Business Review)

Drones at Work

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen announced that it destroyed a Houthi drone storage site near Sanaa as part of a campaign to cripple the rebel group’s increasingly sophisticated drone capabilities. (Reuters)

The University of Washington announced that it deployed unmanned submarines under an Arctic ice shelf 18 times as part of a test program to collect data in support of studies on global sea level rise. (AUVSI)

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is preparing to begin emergency medical drone delivery tests across Turnagain Fjord near Anchorage, Alaska. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Authorities in Bangkok are using water-spraying drones to combat heavy smog over the city. (The Times)

The National Trust for Scotland used drones to create detailed 3D maps of the Canna and Sanday Islands, revealing the location of dozens of new archaeological sites. (BBC)

The German Air Force’s inaugural class of Heron TP pilots and sensor operators has begun training at an Israeli air base. (Defense News)

A rogue drone was reportedly spotted filming Bill Cosby as he was moving around the exercise yard at a Pennsylvania prison. (USA Today)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded SRC a $108 million contract for work on counter-drone systems. (Syracuse.com)

The U.S. Army awarded DRS Sustainment Systems a $74.9 million contract for the Mobile-Low Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System, a counter-drone weapon. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $55.1 million contract for the procurement of five MQ-8C Fire Scout systems and two lightweight fuel cells. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded BL Harbert International a $41.8 million contract to construct an 80,000 square foot hangar for the MQ-25 Stingray development program. (DoD)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Mile Two a $3 million contract for research into manned-unmanned combat teaming. (FBO)

The U.K.’s Royal Air Force will reportedly contract General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to integrate detect-and-avoid technology into its Protector RG Mk1 drones. (Defense News)

Deveron UAS signed a $3.8 million agreement with A&L Laboratories Canada to provide a drone data network for A&L’s agricultural soil sampling service. (Press release)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In an interview with Robotics Business Review, Chad Tyson discusses the challenges that U.S. law enforcement agencies face when acquiring drones.

Meanwhile, at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Alex Riggins writes that the Chula Vista Police Department deployed its drones in 231 missions between October and January.

At Defense News, Sebastian Sprenger writes that the manufacturers of the Eurodrone are considering integrating U.S. collision-avoidance technology.

At The Atlantic, Jan Ellen Spiegel looks at how a discovery by an underwater drone could dramatically change the future of hurricane forecasts.

Also at Defense News, Seth J. Frantzman speaks with Elta Systems about the ways in which the company’s Drone Guard system detects and disables drones.

At USNI News, Megan Eckstein looks at the ways in which the U.S. Navy is considering experimenting with the integration of unmanned vessels into fleet operations.

At War on the Rocks, Elee Wakim argues that autonomous unmanned surface vehicles could help solve the Navy’s logistical needs.

Also at War on the Rocks, Steven Hallgren looks at how the Navy can improve the integration of unmanned aircraft and other new technologies into operations.

At TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey writes that China has launched an unmanned semi-submersible vehicle to collect scientific data.

The Economist considers the ways in which new technology is being used to combat drones.

In a study published in Conservation Physiology, a group of researchers found that American black bears eventually adapt to the presence of drones operating overhead. (howstuffworks)

At Film Threat, Chuck Foster reviews “The Drone,” a new horror film about a killer drone.

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