Weekly Roundup 4/1/19

A Matternet drone with a UPS package. Image via sUAS News.


March 25, 2019 – March 31, 2019

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Top Stories

UPS has partnered with drone delivery firm Matternet to deliver medical supplies across the Raleigh, North Carolina campus of WakeMed Health & Hospitals. The flights will be overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. This marks the first time that the FAA has permitted routine commercial drone deliveries in U.S airspace. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Army selected Martin UAV and Textron Systems’ AAI Corporation to compete to provide the successor aircraft to the Army’s RQ-7 Shadow. The Army awarded both companies $99.5 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts to produce demonstrator aircraft that will be fielded with several Army platoons for testing. (DefenseNews)

Know Your Drone

Iraq’s State Company for Military Industries unveiled a medium-altitude drone. The Iraqi military is reportedly interested in acquiring an armed variant of the system. (Jane’s)

U.S. firm Howe and Howe unveiled the Grizzly, an unmanned ground vehicle that the company has developed to compete for the Pentagon’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport program. (Shephard Media)

The U.S. Navy and the U.K. Royal Navy have developed an experimental converted amphibious ship that carries a range of unmanned vehicles for minesweeping operations. (The Drive)

The Russian Aviation Materials Institute is preparing to begin test flights of a drone powered by a 3D-printed engine. (Jane’s)

The U.S. Marine Corps is seeking a small fixed-wing surveillance and reconnaissance drone with up to 24 hours of flight endurance. (Aviation Week)

Agricultural firm ADAMA and drone maker Tactical Robotics are conducting a feasibility study of a large vertical take-off and landing drone for high-capacity crop spraying operations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced that it has conducted new tests in which a swarm of cooperative drones completed various missions without communications or GPS links. (Drone Below)

Slovenian drone maker C-Astral Aerospace unveiled the BRAMOR mSX, a fixed-wing drone for surveying and mapping. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory issued a capability request for information on technologies for its Skyborg program, which seeks to field an autonomous unmanned combat air vehicle as soon as 2023. (FlightGlobal)

Robot maker Boston Dynamics unveiled a birdlike two-wheeled robot called Handle designed for loading pallets. (Ars Technica)

U.S. counter-drone systems maker Citadel Defense unveiled Titan, a drone detection and mitigation system. (Press Release)

Drones at Work

The South African National Defence Force is deploying a number of Indiza hand-launched drones for peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Defence Web)

Frankfurt Airport in Germany suspended flights for 30 minutes following reports of a drone operating nearby. (DW)

Telecom firms NTT DoCoMo and PT Solusi Tunas Pratama have launched a joint drone inspection service for cell towers. (Robotics & Automation)

Various public safety agencies in North Dakota have launched the Red River Valley Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit, which will employ drones for a range of emergency response operations. (Grand Forks Herald)

Police in Hong Kong are investigating reports that a drone was seen flying over the office of the city’s chief executive. (South China Morning Post)

Wind power firm Vestas and the Hvide Sande Shipyard in Denmark have launched a project to evaluate drones for stabilizing wind turbine blades during installation in high wind conditions. (Wind Power Monthly)

Drone firm PrecisionHawk and production company AMPLE have been using LiDAR-equipped drones to search for buried WWII-era treasure in deep vegetation in the Philippines. (AUVSI)

Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida used a Rapid Airfield Damage Recovery robotic applique kit to aid in the clean-up at the facility following Hurricane Michael. (AUVSI)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $9.2 million foreign military sales contract for MQ-9 Reaper contractor logistics support for the government of the United Kingdom. (DoD)

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $34.3 million contract for MQ-9 Block 5 procurement for the government of Spain. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu a $17.5 million contract modification for sustainment and support services for Afghanistan’s ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle sites. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing Insitu a $9.9 million contract modification for one ScanEagle system for the government of Indonesia. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $46.7 million contract modification for work on the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Leidos a $27.5 million contract for work on the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded ArgenTech Solutions $45 million contract to provide support for the sensors on the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle and Sky Warrior drones. (DoD)

URSA announced that the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX has awarded it a $1.9 million contract to integrate forensics systems into its counter-drone “kill chain.” (Press Release)

The U.K.’s Defence and Security Accelerator awarded a consortium of companies led by Blue Bear Systems Research a £2.5 million contract to develop drone swarms. (Gov.UK)

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, Vietnam is seeking to acquire the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, a fixed-wing surveillance and reconnaissance drone.

Australia announced that it will proceed with the procurement of another Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton, the second of six Tritons that it plans to acquire. (Australian Aviation)

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of four MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones to the government of Belgium for an estimated $600 million. (DefenseNews)

The U.S. State Department has pledged $13 million in assistance to Bangladesh to acquire a drone for peacekeeping operations. (DipNote)

Boeing Insitu has partnered with Shell QGC to provide ScanEagle drones to provide automated safety monitoring of wellheads. (Shephard Media)

Sinclair Community College has partnered with Elizabeth City State University to develop a drone training, education, and research program. (Dayton Daily News)

Sofar Ocean Technologies, a new startup that will develop underwater drones, has raised $7 million in a Series A round. (TechCrunch)

Kespry, a drone services and software company, announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount from Salesforce Ventures. (TechCrunch)

DroneShield has partnered with Saudi Telecom Company to provide DroneSentinel and DroneSentry counter-drone systems. (DroneLife)

Drone Delivery Canada, a Vaughan-based company developing a delivery drone with a 400-pound payload capacity, has raised approximately C$10 million in a financing deal. (YorkRegion.com)

A U.S. district court judge in Delaware dismissed antitrust counterclaims by Autel Robotics against DJI. The two consumer drone manufacturers have been engaged in a legal struggle since 2016. (DroneLife)

RelmaTech announced that it will participate in the NASA Unmanned Traffic Pilot Program at the Nevada UAS Test Site. (Press Release)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In an op-ed, the editorial board of The New York Times argues that the Trump administration has made it harder to know how many civilians are killed in U.S. drone strikes, and calls for more thorough oversight and transparency.

Also at The New York Times, Jake Swearingen examines efforts to integrate artificial intelligence into racing drones.

Meanwhile, in an interview at DroneLife, Paul Nurkkala reflects on his experiences as a drone racer and explains where he thinks racing will go in the future.

Also at DroneLife, John Saginario argues that the community of drone hobbyists is at risk unless they are able to find common cause with commercial drone pilots.

At Shephard Media, Gordon Arthur examines Malaysia’s growing interest in acquiring a large, strike-capable military drone.

In the Canadian Military Journal, Patrice Deschênes writes that the Canadian Navy should consider taking steps to protect ships against small drones.

At War on the Rocks, Jules Hurst argues that the proliferation of small drones poses new opportunities and challenges for asserting air superiority.

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton explores recently released documents detailing the history of the U.S. government’s D-21 “Tagboard” supersonic drone.

Meanwhile, at The Drive, Joseph Trevithick writes that the U.S. Air Force once proposed turning the D-21 into a nuclear bomber.

At the South China Morning Post, Celia Chen writes that drone pilots in China are stepping in to fill the labor gap caused by the mass migration of farmworkers to cities.

SkyPixel announced the winners of the 2018 Aerial Photo and Video Contest. (The Verge)


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