Weekly Roundup 3/11/19

An MQ-9 Reaper at Hurlburt Field in 2017. Credit: Airman 1st Class Caleb Pavao

March 4, 2019 – March 10, 2019

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Top Stories

President Donald Trump has revoked a rule requiring the government to compile an annual report on U.S strikes outside of conventional war zones and the civilian casualties resulting from these operations. The rule was enacted by President Obama as part of a wider effort to more tightly control drone strikes and other covert military operations in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. In an executive order, Mr. Trump called the rule “superfluous.” (The New York Times)

Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems announced that the XQ-58A Valkyrie, an experimental jet-powered drone, completed its first flight at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. The Valkyrie, which is being developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology program, is designed to serve as an autonomous unmanned wingman to manned fighter aircraft. (Aviation International Online)

The government of Japan has prepared legislation that would ban drone flights over facilities belonging to the U.S military and Japan’s Self Defense Forces. The proposed legislation, which would also ban drones from international sporting events, grants police and SDF personnel the authority to destroy drones operating in restricted zones. (The Japan Times)

Know Your Drone

Russia’s Foundation for Advanced Studies released a video showing its Marker armed unmanned robot conducting a series of maneuvers and operating in tandem with aerial drones. (Jane’s)

The U.S Defense Innovation Unit issued a solicitation for technologies to identify and bring down adversary drone swarms. (FCW)

FedEx unveiled the SameDay Bot, an autonomous package delivery robot. (AUVSI)

Spanish firm Embention unveiled a new version of its Veronte Gimbal Pro, a dual-camera unit for small unmanned aircraft. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

In a test, Sonardyne International and SINTEF Ocean demonstrated the ability to track unmanned undersea vehicles moving through fish pens by using an acoustic positioning system. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The University of Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness Homeland Security and Cybersecurity repurposed an old basketball gym as a test site for drones. (WAMC)

Drones at Work

Emergency responders in Alabama used drones to aid in the search for survivors following a tornado in Miami Valley. (Associated Press)

Saudi forces shot down a drone reportedly operated by the Houthi group over the city of Abha. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, an Indian fighter jet shot down a reported Pakistani drone over Anupgarh-Bikaner. (Times of India)

Brazilian food delivery firm iFood has launched a pilot program to test drones for delivery services. (Reuters)

Pakistani and Spanish mountaineers used drones to search for two climbers who disappeared on Nanga Parbat, a mountain in Pakistan. (The New York Times).

A team from Queensland University of Technology is testing drones and computer vision to detect koalas in deeply forested areas. (TechCrunch)

Sheep farmed in New Zealand are using barking multirotor drones to herd sheep faster than a real dog. (Radio New Zealand)

Industry Intel

USNI News reports that the U.S. Navy intends to award contracts for a new class of medium unmanned surface vehicles by the end of the year.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions announced that it has received $20.8 million in new unmanned aerial vehicle contract awards from multiple international customers. (Press Release)

Meanwhile, Kratos announced that it has received $11.2 million in new unmanned air and ground vehicle contract awards from domestic and international customers. (Press Release)

The Corporación de la Industria Aeronáutica Colombiana has partnered with Airbus Defence and Space—Spain to manufacture the Atlante, a long-endurance multi-role drone. (Jane’s)

U.K. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that the Ministry of Defence would commit  £66 million ($86 million) to fast-track military robotics projects. (Press Release)

Latvia’s Ministry of Defense awarded UAV Factory a contract for unmanned aerial vehicles for the Latvian military. (Shephard News)

In a statement at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine has already taken delivery of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. (Interfax Ukraine).

Israel’s Roboteam will partner with Italy’s BMD Spa to supply Italy’s national police with Roboteam TIGR unmanned ground vehicles. (Globes)

Vtrus, a Seattle-based startup that is developing drones for indoor inspections, has raised $2.9 million. (GeekWire)

The Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University has acquired two TigerShark XP3 drones. (Press Release)

Aerospace firm Kaman is seeking to bring a pilot-optional variant of the K-MAX heavy-lift helicopter to the commercial market by 2020. (Aviation International Online)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In an investigation at Yahoo News, Sean D. Naylor examines how a secretive Army special forces regiment has become one of the most lethal drone units in the U.S. military.

At Reuters, Peter Apps considers the ways in which the proliferation of drones in the Middle East has altered geopolitical dynamics.

At The Drive, Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway considers the possible covert deployment of a handful of U.S. Avenger drones over Syria.

At IEEE Spectrum, Mark Harris examines a secretive partnership between SoftBank and Aerovironment to develop the Hawk 30 high-altitude solar-powered drone.

In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo explains that the company is emphasizing safety ahead of plans to begin drone deliveries of medical supplies in North Carolina.

At USNI News, Megan Eckstein explores how the U.S. Navy is investing in unmanned undersea vehicles for explosive ordnance disposal.

In Proceedings, Lt. Cdr. Collin Fox argues that the U.S. Navy should invest in unmanned surface vehicles as its new patrol craft.

At Aviation Week, Henry Canaday profiles Donecle, a company specializing in drones for commercial aircraft inspections.

At FlightGlobal, Garrett Reim writes that Boeing’s unveiling of the Airpower Teaming System reflects a burgeoning market for loyal wingman drones.

At the Jerusalem Post, Seth J. Frantzman accompanies an Israeli military drone unit on a nighttime exercise.

In a statement, U.S Senator Dianne Feinstein criticized the Trump administration’s decision to end the requirement for an annual report on U.S. drone strikes and announced plans to codify the requirement in upcoming legislation. (Press Release)

At The Washington Post, Justin Sherman argues that competition between the U.S. and China over artificial intelligence shouldn’t be perceived as an arms race.

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