Weekly Roundup 6/20/16

The Korean Army experimented with a delivery drone system. Image via The Korea Times
The Korean Army experimented with a delivery drone system. Image via The Korea Times

June 13, 2016 – June 19, 2016

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have passed competing drafts of the National Defense Authorization Act, which establishes funding priorities for the Pentagon. We reviewed both bills to determine how they will affect the Department of Defense’s drone programs. Here’s what you need to know.


A suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen reportedly killed three individuals associated with al-Qaeda. The strike targeted a vehicle in Yemen’s central Shabwa province. (Associated Press)

The Washington Post reports that the White House appears to have largely shifted control of the targeted killing program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Pentagon. According to the Post, the number of strikes carried out by the Agency has fallen to a new low as a result of constraints placed on the CIA by the Obama administration.

The U.S. Park Police cited a Virginia man for flying a drone near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Drone use is not permitted within a 15-mile radius of the Capitol. (Associated Press)

A firefighting helicopter reportedly had a close encounter with a drone during a mission to combat a brush fire in southwest Reno, Arizona. “It was my first close encounter of the drone kind,” Doug Russel, a Washoe County Sheriff’s deputy and chief pilot, said in an interview with the Associated Press. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Rachel Stohl argues that it’s time for greater transparency when it comes to drones and targeted killings.

At Lawfare, Robert Chesney argues that questions over whether the CIA or the Pentagon should control drone strikes do not have an easy answer.

At the International Business Times, Mary-Ann Russon writes that DJI is calling for a common guide to rules for operating drones in Europe.

Deutsche Bank found that using drones for delivery is much more affordable than other ground and air transportation methods. (Business Insider)

At the Daily Signal, Melissa Quinn takes a look at the case of a Minnesota man who was fined $55,000 by the FAA for operating a drone.

At War is Boring, David Axe writes that the U.S. Air Force might end up replacing the F-22 manned fighter jet with an unmanned aircraft.

At the Ethics & International Affairs, John R. Emery considers the “possibilities and pitfalls of humanitarian drones.”

At Detroit News, Ryan VanOver argues that legislation in Michigan should be amended to regulate recreational drones.

At Gizmodo, Rich Wordsworth examines the evolution of armed drones and the efforts currently underway to build the successor to the MQ-9 Reaper.

Johnny Miller, an American photographer based in South Africa, used a drone to illustrate the physical divisions that resulted from apartheid. (Fast Company Design)

Know Your Drone

U.S. startup LiquidPiston has demonstrated a lightweight rotary engine that it developed as part of a DARPA funded project. Such engines could potentially be well-suited for drones and robots. (Wired)

German firm Rheinmetall is marketing its Oerlikon Skyshield High Energy Laser system—which is designed to shoot down incoming projectiles such as mortars—as a potential counter-drone weapon. (Popular Science)

The U.S. Air Force announced that it has developed for its RQ-4 Global Hawk an ISR Payload Adapter, which allows the high-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance drone to be fitted with future sensor systems. (Press Release)

Argentina’s Ministry of Defense has cancelled its Sistema Aéreo Robótico Argentino surveillance drone development program. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Drone maker Sentera has unveiled the Phoenix 2, a fixed-wing commercial drone for aerial data gathering operations. (Shephard Media)

A U.S. Air Force investigation found that an MQ-1 Predator drone crash in April 2015 was caused by degraded radio signals, while an MQ-9 Reaper crash the following month was the result of a malfunctioning nosewheel. (Air Force Times)

French defense firm Safran unveiled the eRider, an optionally manned four-wheel-drive ground vehicle. (Defense Aerospace)

South African startup SteadiDrone unveiled the Alti Transition, a hybrid multirotor fixed wing drone for aerial data collection. (Tech Central)

Drones at Work

The U.S. Air National Guard announced that it will begin conducting daily training flights of its MQ-9 Reaper drones from Syracuse Hancock Airport. (Syracuse.com) For more on Air National Guard drones, click here.

An activist group plans to use drones to deliver abortion pills from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal. (Mashable)

The Greek Ministry of the Environment announced that it will be using drones and satellite imagery to locate and identify illegal building projects. (Greek Reporter)

The Korean Army conducted a demonstration of a delivery drone system that it hopes to deploy by 2018. (Korea Times)

Meanwhile, the city government of Seoul has announced plans to develop a 290,000 square- foot drone park beside the Han river. (BBC)

The Suez Canal Authority confiscated a drone that a shipping company used to film one of its ships passing through the canal. (Splash 247)

A Dublin gang is using drones to conduct surveillance against a rival gang’s members. (Dublin Live)  

U.S. startup DroneSeed has created a seed-firing drone for reforestation operations. (MarketWatch)

Industry Intel

DARPA awarded Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. a $17.8 million contract for additional work on the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN), a program to develop a medium-altitude, long-endurance air vehicle for ships. (Contract Announcement)

Meanwhile, DARPA awarded PARC $2.3 million and DZYNE Technologies Inc. $2.9 million to develop vanishing drones for precision airdrops. (Military Aerospace)

The U.S. Army awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. a $24.9 million contract for six months of logistics support for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned systems. (Contract Announcement)

A British aerial photo and video provider was awarded a contract to provide drone services to the BBC’s “Top Gear” television show. (Insider Media Limited)

France has opened bidding on a contract to provide a successor to the Drac, a hand-launched reconnaissance drone used by the French military. (Defense News)

Kickstart Accelerator, a Swiss firm, invested $26,000 in Egyptian startup Droefie to develop selfie drones. (Wamda)

Autodesk invested an unspecified amount in 3D Robotics, a U.S. drone manufacturer. (TechCrunch)

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