Weekly Roundup 4/22/19


Firefighters in Paris used drones to direct efforts at the Notre Dame fire. Image via the Ministry of the Interior

April 15, 2019 – April 21, 2019

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Top Stories

Police in the U.K. suspect that the drone flights over Gatwick Airport last December were an “inside job.” In an interview with BBC Panorama, a member of the Sussex police said that the perpetrator appeared to be familiar with the airport’s operating procedures and may have been flying the drone from within the airport. Multiple drone sightings shut down Gatwick several times between December 19 and 21, disrupting travel for thousands of passengers. (The Guardian)

Fire brigades in Paris used two multirotor drones to assist firefighting efforts during the blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral. The Parisian Police Drone Unit’s DJI Mavic Pro and Matrice 210 drones helped firefighters navigate the fire, direct hoses, and survey the damage in real time. (The Verge)

Know Your Drone

South Korean firm MetaVista broke the world flight endurance record for a multi-rotor drone, flying a hydrogen fuel-cell powered system for 12 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds. (Press Release)

The U.K. Ministry of Defence is looking to potentially develop a large unmanned submarine for long-range covert missions. (USNI News)

Swiss air rescue group Rega unveiled a search and rescue helicopter drone that can autonomously spot survivors with its multiple sensor systems. (New Atlas)

A team from Purdue University has developed a drone with movable rotor arms, which are thought to improve the vehicle’s performance and stability. (New Atlas)

China Shipbuilding Industry Company announced that its Marine Lizard amphibious combat unmanned surface vessel has passed its factory acceptance tests and will be ready for production by the end of the year. (Jane’s)

Marine, diving, pipeline, and subsea engineering firm Unique Group unveiled the Uni-Cat, an unmanned surface vessel for hydrographic surveys. (Marine Technology)

Meanwhile, maritime drone maker Kongsberg unveiled the Sounder, an unmanned surface vessel for data collection operations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Aerospace firm Jetwind Brasil Services and Technologies unveiled a 3-in-1 drone that can be configured as either a fixed-wing aircraft, a quadcopter, or a tethered multirotor. (Jane’s)

French drone maker Parrot unveiled the Anafi Thermal, a quadcopter equipped with an infrared sensor. (The Verge)

Turkish Aerospace Industries announced that it has begun testing of its Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance drone, which it plans to put into series production by early 2020. (Jane’s)

Swiss firms Fotokite and Pierce Manufacturing unveiled the Pierce Situational Awareness System by Fotokite, a tethered surveillance drone for firefighting operations. (Drone Life)

Drones at Work

The Texas Senate approved a bill criminalizing the use of drones near the state’s military installations. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Using an aerial drone over a remote cliff, a team at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii rediscovered a plant species that was previously thought to be extinct. (National Geographic)

A camera drone was spotted flying over Windsor Castle and Frogmore Cottage, two royal residences near Heathrow airport in London. (The Daily Mail)

The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan published a video showing that its AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven surveillance drones have entered service with the Uzbek military. (Jane’s)

The University of Tasmania completed the first Antarctic deployment of its nupiri muka autonomous underwater vehicle, which it used to collect data under the Sørsdal Glacier. (AUVSI)

The Montebello Police Department plans to acquire drones for law enforcement operations. (Whittier Daily News).

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $99 million contract for contractor logistics support services for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. (DoD

The U.S. Army will not pursue a plan to acquire a next-generation drone and will instead focus on developing manned-unmanned teaming efforts. (Defense News)

The U.K. Ministry of Defence awarded FLIR Systems a $1.8 million contract for Black Hornet 3 micro drones for the British Army. (Press Release)

Canada’s Department of National Defence has warned that a shortage of expert staff could delay its efforts to acquire strike-capable drones. (Ottawa Citizen)

Citadel Defense announced that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency for counter-drone systems for special forces. (Press Release)

Japan’s Terra Drone has acquired a stake in C-Astral Aerospace, a Slovenian firm that develops rail-launched drones for military and commercial applications. (Press Release)

Meanwhile, Terra Drone has partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology to create a Center for Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Hyderabad. (India Today)

Commentary, Analysis, Art

At The Boston Globe, Hiawatha Bray explains how a recent drone incursion over a baseball game at Fenway Park points to the risk that drones can pose to the public, and to the challenges of countering the threat. Center co-director Arthur Holland Michel was interviewed for this story.

At Airport Technology, Julian Turner examines a few potential approaches to address the risk posed by drones at airports.

At Aviation Week, Bill Carey writes that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed rule changes for drones are drawing comments from airline pilots.

Meanwhile, at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Jim Moore expands on AOPA’s comments on the FAA’s proposed changes to drone regulations.

At Defense News, Valerie Insinna looks at five areas that the U.S. Air Force is emphasizing in its new science and technology strategy.

Also at Defense News, Christina Mackenzie writes that the French Army is considering replacing humans with robots in some roles.

At USNI News, John Grady looks at why the U.S. Navy is placing a big bet on unmanned surface vehicles in the current budget submission.

At Small Wars Journal, Robert Hunter Ward considers the ethics of drone warfare.

PBS Newshour visits Agadez, Niger to see how a new U.S. drone base might impact the region.

At the BBC, Tim Harford writes that the origins of a technology that enabled the development of drones and GPS can be traced back to a 1744 shipwreck.

At CNN, Natasha Chen offers an in-depth look at the Chula Vista Police Department’s system for using drones to respond to crimes.

At AOPA, Steve Rhode explains why he purchased a small, cheap drone to get his fire department’s drone program off the ground.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence published its analysis of why an Army Watchkeeper drone stalled and crashed during a flight test in 2017. (The Register)

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