Weekly Roundup 2/27/17

Chinese drone maker DJI unveiled the M200 family of commercial drones. Credit: DJI

February 20, 2017 – February 26, 2017

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Dronescapes is a collection of vibrant, mystical paintings of drones by Australian artist Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox. In a conversation with the Center for the Study of the Drone, the artist shares the meaning of her work, explains her use of traditional Australian motifs, and shares her views on the rise of autonomous technology.


The Federal Aviation Administration released a new set of reports of airspace incidents involving drones, including close encounters with manned aircraft and drone use over airports. The dataset includes 1,274 reported incidents that occurred between February and September 2016, around 400 more than occurred during the same period in 2015. (Recode) For our analysis of previous drone sightings and close encounters, click here.

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the National Interest, Elsa Kania argues that China could soon overtake the U.S. in the development of autonomous drones.

At the New York Times, Scott Shane examines newly-released documents related to an FBI investigation on Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical U.S.-born cleric who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

At Al Jazeera, AlHakam Shaar and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick look at how drones are being used to document the destruction of Aleppo and other Syrian cities.

At Popular Mechanics, David Hambling looks at Ukrainian efforts to develop drones in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

At Inside Unmanned Systems, Maj. Gen. James Poss considers the challenges posed by insecure data links that connect unmanned aircraft with pilots.  

During arguments for Hernandez v. Mesa at the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. discussed a hypothetical overseas drone strike. (Law.com)

CBS News examined how ISIL is increasingly using drones to drop bombs on Iraqi civilians and military personnel in Mosul.

At ArsTechnica, Sean Gallagher looks at how ISIL has adapted the DJI Matrice 100 to carry little bombs.

At the Washington Post, Joby Warrick writes that ISIL’s use of drones is raising fears that drones may be used in a domestic terror attack.

Also at the Washington Post, Avi Selk examines how the French military is training golden eagles to take down drones.

At Military.com, Oriana Pawlyk provides an inside look at a U.S. Air Force strike against an ISIL drone cell.

At Defense Systems, George Leopold writes that the battle for Mosul is fueling the development of counter-drone systems.

At the Palm Beach Post, Kristina Webb looks at how Trump’s visits to Palm Beach impact local drone operators and businesses.

At Automotive News, Keith Naughton writes that Ford is bypassing semi-autonomous vehicles and will instead develop fully autonomous systems.

At War is Boring, Joseph Trevithick examines some of the U.S. Army’s first drone bases.

At Forbes, John Goglia argues that the latest FAA drone incident data proves that the FAA “should just stop tracking pilot drone sightings.”

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Air Force announced that it plans to fully phase out its fleet of MQ-1 Predator drones in 2018. (UPI)

Delivery company UPS tested a new delivery drone system, delivering a package to a customer in Lithia, Florida from the roof of an electric cargo van. (Business Insider)   

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have developed a drone that can steal a computer’s data. (Wired)

The Royal Canadian Navy issued a Request for Information for surveillance and reconnaissance drones that could be deployed aboard frigates. (CBC)

Ukrainian defense firm Ukroboronprom has unveiled the Phantom, an unmanned ground vehicle equipped with an anti-tank missile system and a machine gun. (Foxtrot Alpha)

U.S. company NXT Robotics unveiled the Scorpion, an unmanned ground vehicle designed for physical security operations. (Press Release)

The Desert Research Institute announced that it has conducted a successful flight test of its Drone America Savant cloud-seeding drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

A team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis is developing a drone that takes off vertically and then unfolds itself into a fixed-wing system. (New Scientist)

Serbian defense firm EDePro unveiled the X-01 Strsljen, a surveillance helicopter drone. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Chinese drone maker DJI unveiled the M200 family of commercial drones. (CNET)

Chinese drone maker China Eagle is building the country’s largest production facility for industrial drones. (Economic Times)

Technology firm KB Radar Design Bureau has unveiled a portable counter-drone system, the Groza-R Counter-Multicopter Radio Electronic Rifle. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Nano-drone maker Prox Dynamics has added a night vision sensor to its Black Hornet surveillance drone. (Defense News)

Pakistani firm Global Industry and Defence Solutions is exploring the possibility of developing a medium-altitude long-endurance drone, and is planning to develop a new variant of its Shahpar reconnaissance drone. (IHS Jane’s 360)  

A team at Utah State University has developed a long-endurance battery-powered drone. (Cache Valley Daily)

Defense firms S-Plane Automation and Stemme AG are partnering to develop optionally manned aircraft. (IHS Jane’s 360)

India’s CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories unveiled the Suchan, a small autonomous surveillance drone. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Chinese unmanned systems maker Poly Defence unveiled the Xbot 520, an unmanned ground vehicle. (Shephard Media)

Canadian security firm Med-Eng unveiled the Avenger, an unmanned ground vehicle. (Shephard Media)

German technology firm Rheinmetall is looking to develop an armed variant of its multi-mission unmanned ground vehicle. (Shephard Media)

Autonomous drone firm Exyn Technologies has unveiled a software system that allows drones to autonomously navigate complex environments. (TechCrunch)

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are developing a system to allow drones to land autonomously on moving vehicles. (Phys.org)

Robotics firm Roboteam is developing an unmanned vehicle called Rooster that can both roll on the ground and fly. (Defense Update)

Drones at Work

Iran has banned private drones from Tehran’s airspace after security concerns. In recent months, Iranian air defenses have targeted drones flying near the capital. (Associated Press)

An Israel Defense Forces fighter jet shot down a drone allegedly operated by Hamas over the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)

A GoPro consumer drone crashed through a 27th floor apartment window in New York. (New York Post)

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has received approval to operate drones for search and rescue missions. (Marketplace)

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District and drone delivery firm Matternet are partnering to work on a delivery system for urgent items such as defibrillators and life vests. (Mercury News)

The Madeira Beach Fire Department in Florida has obtained a drone for search and rescue operations. (ABC Action News)

The Crestview Police Department in Florida has acquired a drone for operations. (Nwfdailynews.com)

Meanwhile, a fire department in West Memphis, Arkansas has obtained a drone for a range of operations. (KATV)

A drone reportedly flew within 90 feet of a commercial airliner near East Midlands Airport in the U.K. (The Sun)

Firefighting efforts near Fort Worth, Texas were interrupted by a rogue drone flying nearby. (KXAN)

A man in Jackson, Wyoming caused a herd of 1,500 elk to stampede after flying a drone too close to the animals. (CBS News)

Meanwhile, tigers at a tiger farm in China caught and wrecked a drone that was being used to film the animals. (Fortune)

Industry Intel

U.S. Special Operations Command awarded Precision Integrated Programs a $2 million contract for a vertical take-off and landing drone. (FBO)

AirMap, a startup developing an air traffic management platform for drones, raised $26 million in a funding round led by Microsoft Ventures. (Reuters)

The European Defence Agency awarded Défense Conseil International a contract for a flight simulator for training medium-altitude long-endurance drone pilots. (Shephard Media)

DARTdrones, a Pennsylvania-based startup that trains consumer and commercial drone operators, was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. (TechCrunch)

An Alphabet subsidiary is suing Otto and Uber for allegedly stealing secrets to self-driving car technology. (Recode)  

PrecisionHawk selected Sierra Wireless for its Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety platform. (Press Release)

Leonardo will outfit Patroller drones with PicoSAR AESA radars for the French Army. (UPI)

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