Weekly Roundup 4/22

An image of Eunpyung New Town, Seoul that was released by the South Korean Defence MInistry. It was taken by one of the North Korean surveillance drones which recently crashed in South Korea. Credit: Getty Images
An image of Eunpyung New Town, Seoul provided by the South Korean Defence MInistry. It was taken by one of the North Korean surveillance drones which recently crashed in South Korea. Credit: Getty Images

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has taken on a critical role in the contemporary drone debate, appearing in the arguments of both drone advocates, who claim that high PTSD rates among operators dispels theories about the “remoteness” of drone warfare, and anti-drone activists, who argue that the prevalence of the condition is proof of the moral hazard of remote war. In order to shed light on the issue, Dan Gettinger unpacks the recent academic work on the emotional and psychological stresses of modern warfare, and the singular pressures of drone warfare.


A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. government to release portions of a memorandum justifying the targeted killing of suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens. The court ordered the government to release the portions of the memo in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by The New York Times. The order overturned a 2013 ruling that upheld the government’s right to withhold memoranda relating to its targeted killing program. (Reuters)

U.S. drone strikes in Yemen killed at over 40 suspected al-Qaeda militants. According to tribal elders, a series of missiles were fired at an al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula training camp in the Wadi Ghadina region in the southern province of Abyan. The strikes came just days after one of the largest meeting of al-Qaeda followers in several years, as well as the publication of a rare video of AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi promising a “war against crusaders.” (AFP)

Google announced that it has bought Titan Aerospace, a company that manufactures high-altitude, solar-powered drones, as part of its bid to deliver Internet access to far-off locations. The acquisition is the latest development in the internet company’s increasingly heated race against Facebook, which bought its own drone manufacturer earlier this year, to deliver Internet access using unmanned systems. (Wall Street Journal)

A report by the Government Accountability Office urged the Air Force to take new measures to improve the morale of the crews of drones. In a survey of serving and retired drone pilots and operators, the GAO found that insufficient training, a demanding workload and the belief that there is a widespread negative opinion of drones contributed to the low morale. (Air Force Times)

A team of firefighters in Blackrod, England used a drone in the aftermath of a gas explosion. The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is believed to be the only fire service in the country to use drones, part of a program called “Future Firefighter.” (The Bolton News)

Meanwhile, in Shropshire, England, criminals have armed drones with heat-seeking cameras to detect underground marijuana growing operations, which are prime targets for robberies. “I am just after drugs to steal and sell, if you break the law then you enter me and my drone’s world,” said an unnamed thief in an interview with The Independent. The thefts often go unreported due to the illegal status of the marijuana farms.

Commentary, Analysis and Art

Harpers Magazine included a series of aerial photos by Tomas van Houtryve of places in the United States that resemble the locations of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

At Motherboard, Shawn Musgrave put together a timeline of every known use of drones by the F.B.I.

A new poll by Pew Research found that Americans, while generally optimistic about the contributions of future technologies to their lives, remained concerned about recent technological developments such as drones. The study found that women and the elderly are most concerned about the prospect of domestic drones.

Radiolab explains the background of the controversial Authorization for Use of Military Force, the 60-word legal basis for the post-9/11 wars and for drone strikes.

At Slate’s Drone U, Timothy Reuter and Nabiha Syed interview Brendan Schulman, a lawyer representing a search-and-rescue group in Texas, about the humanitarian uses of drones.

Sky Films, a team of Chilean aerial videographers, captured footage of the damage caused by a fire in the northern city of Valparaiso.

At Engadget, Jon Fingas reviews the use of drones in the BentProp Project, an effort to find the bodies of U.S. soldiers missing since the Second World War.

At Quartz, Matthew Bennett discusses how Spain’s ban on domestic drones is hurting filmmakers.

At Defense One, Patrick Tucker argues that the development of artificial intelligence and robotic systems will eventually lead to a “robot uprising.”

At Rolling Stone, Vivian Salama discusses the rise of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological conditions among civilians in areas around Yemen where drones are active.

A Montana Republican running for Congress has released a television spot in which he shoots an aerial drone with a rifle. (The Verge)

Know Your Drone

The U.S. Military is re-purposing old surveillance drones as Wi-Fi hotspots to serve forces in remote areas. (Wired)

The underwater drone searching for remains of MH370 completed seven missions without locating any debris or the plane’s black boxes. (CNN)

Writing for The Daily Beast, Zach Rosenberg describes how nations are rushing to develop drones with stealth capabilities.

The North Korea Tech Blog analyzes the similarities between the North Korean drone that recently crashed in South Korea and those produced by a Chinese company called Taiyuan Navigation Friend Aviation Technology.

The New York Times‘ Nick Bilton describes “How to Take the Ultimate Drone Selfie.”

Meanwhile, at Drones at Home blog, Ang Cui, a PhD student at Columbia University, offers a step-by-step guide to 3D printing your own drone.

And this video allegedly shows a Portuguese Navy drone taking a dive on a public test flight.

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