Weekly Roundup 5/29/17

The DJI Spark drone. Image via dronetrest.com

May 22, 2017 – May 28, 2017

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A U.S. drone strike reportedly killed three members of the Pakistani Taliban. According to the Associated Press, the strike targeted a compound in Khost province, Afghanistan, although other sources indicate that the strike was in Pakistan.

The Trump administration is reportedly seeking new powers from Congress to track and destroy wayward drones inside the United States. A draft of the proposed law obtained by the New York Times would allow the federal government to intercept any drone that is viewed as a threat or is flying over a specially designated area such as military bases. According to the Times, the draft bill is currently being discussed in classified briefings on Capitol Hill.

A judge in North Dakota has acquitted a drone operator arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests last year. Aaron Shawn Turgeon was charged with reckless endangerment after police claimed that he had flown close to a surveillance airplane. Footage from cell phones and from Turgeon’s drone contributed to his acquittal. (Bismarck Tribune)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on disruptive technologies and companies.

At Bellingcat, Nick Waters considers trends in ISIS drone bombing tactics based on a database of 121 strikes.

At the Los Angeles Times, Nabih Bulos examines the role that ISIS drones are playing on the battlefield in Mosul.

The editorial board at the Los Angeles Times argues that drones should not be considered the same as toys, even in the wake of the court ruling that struck down the FAA drone registration database.

At East Pendulum, Henri Kenhmann takes a closer look at the Chinese Air Force’s Wing Loong strike drone squadron.

At the Wall Street Journal, Paul J. Davies writes that profits are eluding drone manufacturers in spite of the popularity of consumer drones.

At CNET, Rick Broida surveys the cheap, $20 quadrotor drones that are currently available on the market.

Meanwhile, at Time, John Patrick Pullen looks for the perfect selfie drone.

At the Verge, Sean O’Kane writes that a new DJI policy will remove functionality from their drones unless the user registers with the company.

At Drone360, David O’Connor argues that online retailers are embracing delivery drones out of a desire to exploit consumer tendencies for instant gratification.
At TechCrunch, Brian Heater argues that in spite of new technologies and systems, consumer drones are not quite “mainstream” yet.

At the Taiwan News, Judy Lin writes that Taiwan’s push to develop a medium-altitude long-endurance surveillance drone is still in its early stages.

At the Augusta Chronicle, Thomas Gardiner writes that a Department of Energy investigation into drone sightings near nuclear sites in Georgia has not confirmed any of the reported sightings.

At the Financial Times, Jennifer Thompson looks at the impact that drones have had on workers in different industries.

At the Australian Financial Review, Andrew Burke examines the role that drones had in making the new Pirates of the Caribbean and considers how drones are changing filmmaking.

Know Your Drone

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Boeing are teaming up to build a reusable unmanned space plane called Phantom Express. (Popular Mechanics)

At a launch in New York City, commercial drone maker DJI unveiled Spark, a small consumer quadcopter that can be controlled with hand gestures. (TechCrunch)

In a test flight, a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems SkyGuardian drone remained airborne for 48 hours, a new record for a Predator-series aircraft. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Swedish auto maker Volvo is testing an autonomous garbage truck. (AUVSI)

Swiss drone maker Aeroscout unveiled the Scout B-330, a 50 kg rotary drone that can fly for up to three hours. (GPS World)

Defense firm Textron announced that it has successfully test fired its Fury lightweight precision guided missile from a Shadow tactical drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Israeli defense company UVision has developed a new extended-range loitering munition called the Hero-400EC with an endurance of two hours. (FlightGlobal)

Atmos UAV has unveiled the Marlyn, a vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing drone for commercial applications. (GIM International)

Belarus’s Indela Design Bureau has developed a military vertical take-off and landing drone called Bur. (IHS Jane’s 360)

In a test sponsored by the U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin launched a Vector Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle from a Marlin MK2 undersea drone. (Popular Mechanics)

Drone maker SwellPro unveiled the Splash Drone 3, a waterproof multirotor drone that can float on water. (The Verge)

Otsaw, a Singapore-based startup, has developed an autonomous security ground robot equipped with a multirotor drone. (Mashable)

The U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center is testing a biomimetic minehunting unmanned undersea vehicle. (IHS Jane’s 360)

The U.S. Navy has issued a Request for Information relating to a planned large unmanned surface vehicle program. (FBO)

The U.S. Office of Naval Research and Naval Surface Warfare Command have developed an undersea remotely operated vehicle to assist naval dive teams. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Drones at Work

Chinese retailer JD.com has been granted government approval to operate heavy-load delivery drones along certain fixed routes. (Vox)

A drone crashed into the stands of a San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game in San Diego. (Washington Post)

U.S. Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Lee (R-UT), Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cotton (R-AR) have introduced a bill that would grant local governments the authority to regulate drone use. (Press Release)

The European Space Agency conducted a test in which it used a drone to help explore a cave system in Sicily. (Press Release)

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has released a mobile app that shows drone operators where they can and cannot fly. (ABC)

Meanwhile, farmers in Australia are using drones to help muster herds of Merino sheep. (ABC)

Somali police have acquired five aerial surveillance drones donated by a former U.S. special operations officer. (Reuters)

The Idaho State Police have acquired four drones for a range of operations. (Idaho State Journal)

A food blogger in New Zealand used a drone to pick up his fried chicken from a KFC for him. (Mashable)

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using three unmanned aircraft to observe atmospheric changes that could lead to severe thunderstorms. (Press Release)

A number of drone companies have teamed up to provide 3D drone imagery following flooding in Colombia. (UAV Expert News)

An Israeli Skylark drone crashed during a flight over southern Lebanon. (The New York Times)

The non-profit Lindbergh Foundation is using AI developed by Neurala to analyze footage from anti-poaching drones. (Engadget)

Park police in New York State used a drone to help rescue a dog from Letchworth Gorge. (Press Release)

The North Dakota National Guard in Fargo is slated to receive two MQ-9 Reaper drones for training this summer. (MPR News)

North Dakota was host to a simulated disaster exercise in order to test the role that drones could play in disaster response. (KVRR)

The Israeli military announced that it will deploy unmanned ground vehicles to patrol its border with the Gaza Strip in the coming years. (The Algemeiner)

The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers in Queensland, Australia are using drones to conduct environmental inspections. (Innovators Magazine)

Industry Intel

Echodyne, a startup developing radar systems for drones, raised $29 million in a funding round led by Bill Gates. (TechCrunch)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded the University of Washington a base $3.5 million contract for the Aerial Dragnet program. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $49.4 million advance acquisition contract for components for the MQ-4C Triton surveillance drone. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $13 million contract for one multi-function active sensor for the MQ-4C Triton surveillance drone. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $65.5 million contract modification for logistic support and sustainment for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (MQ-4) program. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu a $1.8 million contract to train service members on the RQ-21A Blackjack drone. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a $14.7 million contract for the AN/AQS-20, a mine hunting sonar that is designed to be towed by unmanned undersea and surface vehicles, as well as by manned platforms. (DoD)   

The U.S. Air Force awarded Radio Hill Technologies a $2.8 million contract for counter-drone systems. (FBO)

The Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador awarded Kraken Sonar Systems $553,609 in funding to support development of the ThunderFish autonomous underwater vehicle. (Press Release)

American Robotics, a company that develops drones for commercial farming applications, secured $1.1 million in a funding round led by Brain Robotics Capital. (Press Release)

DroneSAR, a Dublin-based startup that seeks to develop drone software for emergency response, will receive $55,880 in funding as part of the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre. (Silicon Republic)

Ontario-based SkyX received $4 million in funding from Kuang-Chi Group to continue developing self-charging drones for long-range industrial inspection missions. (Unmanned Aerial Online)  

L3 Technologies has acquired Open Water Power, a Massachusetts-based company that develops high-density aluminium batteries for unmanned undersea vehicles. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Israeli drone manufacturer Aeronautics will make an initial public offering by mid-June. (IHS Jane’s 360)

BIKI, an autonomous commercial underwater drone equipped with a 4K camera, has reached its fundraising goal on Kickstarter. (News Ledge)

Alta Devices and PowerOasis announced a partnership to develop a solar/lithium-ion hybrid battery for drones. (Drone360)

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