Weekly Roundup 6/6/16

A Schiebel Camcopter drone operated by the OSCE.
A Schiebel Camcopter drone operated by the OSCE.

5/30/16 – 6/5/16

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A U.S. drone strike in Somalia targeted Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, a senior member of al-Shabab. In a statement, spokesperson Peter Cook said that the Pentagon is still evaluating whether the strike killed Da’ud. According to Cook, Da’ud was a high-ranking military and intelligence official within the organization. (Washington Post)

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that it will begin using drones for checking warehouse inventories. In a press conference, Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Last Mile and Emerging Sciences Shekar Natarajan said that the operations would begin in six to eight months. The drones will reduce the time it takes to update inventories, from one month to a single day, explained Natarajan. (Reuters)

A drone operated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation was lost during a mission in Ukraine. According to an OSCE report, the drone—which was participating in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine—was flying north of Donetsk when it was subject to GPS jamming, resulting in a loss of communication and system failure. This is the second OSCE drone lost over rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks. (Press Release)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler investigates incidents in which the FAA brought charges against or fined drone users.

At NPR, Alina Selyukh considers the ways drones are changing the model aircraft hobbyist community. For our visit with hobbyists in the Washington, D.C. area, click here.

At TechCrunch, Hugh Harsono writes that China is positioning itself to become a “drone-manufacturing powerhouse.”

At Defense One, Kelley Sayler and Paul Scharre argue that the planned B-21 bomber should be optionally manned.

At Offiziere, Chris Biggers examines new satellite images that reveal the ongoing construction of a U.S. drone base in Agadez, Niger.

Meanwhile, the BBC visited Niamey, Niger to see how France is using drones to combat the Islamic State and Boko Haram.

An editorial at China Military Online defends the deployment of Chinese Harbin BZK-005 surveillance drones to Woody Island in the South China Sea.

At Long War Journal, Bill Roggio considers three airstrikes carried out by the United States in Yemen over the past four months.

Meanwhile, at Lawfare, Robert Chesney considers whether the U.S. has accelerated the pace of airstrikes in Yemen.

At War on the Rocks, Jules Hurst describes scenarios in which infantry units might use drones to achieve a tactical advantage.

At the New Yorker, Barnett Rubin explores the implications of a drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

In a conference with reporters at the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that he is considering removing the term “unmanned” from military job titles in favor of a less gender-specific name. (Military.com)

At the New York Post, Richard Whittle examines efforts to reduce stress levels among Air Force intelligence analysts.

In a Sydney Law School Research Paper, Emily Crawford explores how the principle of distinction applies to drone and cyber operations. (SSRN)

The Observers Team at France24 examines reports that Iran is flying combat drones in Syria.

At Bloomberg Business, Selina Wang takes a look at how drone-maker DJI could appeal to different sectors of the commercial drone industry.

Photographer Trevor Paglen won the 2016 Deutsche Börse prize for his work on military drones and systems of surveillance and power. (GuardianFor our interview with Paglen, click here.

Know Your Drone

Israeli firm Aeronautics is developing a new surveillance and reconnaissance fixed-wing drone, the Orbiter 4, that will have an endurance of up to 24 hours. (IHS Jane’s 360)

French aerospace firm Airbus unveiled the Thor prototype drone, which is made largely of 3D-printed components. (Popular Science)

A group of Star Wars fans made a 15-foot drone version of the fictional Star Destroyer spaceship. (Popular Science)

Shipping company Maersk is expanding its program to test a drone delivery system for transporting goods to remote ships. (CIO)

A prototype P.1HH Hammerhead military drone developed by Italian firm Piaggio Aerospace crashed off the coast of Sicily during a test. (Aviation International Online)

Helicopter maker Sikorsky conducted a 30-mile autonomous flight of a manned helicopter equipped with its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System, which it is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (Press Release)

Meanwhile, U.S. defense contractor Aurora Flight Sciences is testing an applique kit for the U.S. Marine Corps that enables manned helicopters to take off and land autonomously. (Press Release)

The Single European Sky ATM Research initiative has conducted tests in which a manned surveillance airplane shared airspace with two unmanned aircraft. (Flightglobal)

The FAA announced that it will begin testing the Anti-UAV Defence System, a counter-drone device developed by three U.K. firms. (BBC)

U.S. military drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced that its Predator B Big Wing, an extra-long-endurance variant of its Reaper drone, achieved a 37-hour non-stop flight time in testing. (UPI)

Meanwhile, General Atomics-ASI conducted successful operational testing of its Detect and Avoid system aboard a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Reaper. (Press Release)

And General Atomics-ASI has integrated Israeli defense firm Rafael’s RecceLite imagery reconnaissance pod onto an Italian Air Force Reaper. (Press Release)

Japanese company ZeroTech has unveiled the Dobby, a micro-drone designed for taking selfies. (Mashable)

The U.S. Army conducted the first live fire test of its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile from a drone. The JAGM is intended to replace the Hellfire missile currently used on Predator series drones. (Defense News)

French drone maker Drone Volt has unveiled a drone designed to identify and spray the nests of Asian hornets. (Gizmag)

The Chinese military claims to have carried out a test in which it operated a drone from a distance of 1,000 kilometers using satellite communications. (Xinhua)

Drones at Work

An Australian architecture company is using drones for aerial inspections. (Gizmodo)

The Dutch government has announced a campaign to encourage safe drone flying. (Associated Press)

The Alameda Sheriff’s Office in California used drones in the search for a man who shot two police officers. (NBC Bay Area)

Aerial photography site SkyPixel is running a public contest for the best 360-degree aerial photographs. (Fstoppers)

The Grand Rapids Police Department in North Dakota issued a statement to remind drone operators of the rules governing drone use, following an incident in which a drone was spotted flying over a local hospital. (WWMT)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps awarded Boeing Insitu a $71.6 million contract for six RQ-21A Blackjack reconnaissance drones. (Contract Announcement)

Drone maker 3D Robotics is attempting to raise $45 million in an effort to shift focus from the hobby market to commercial sectors. (Forbes)

The Swedish Defence Material Administration awarded Saab Group a contract for the AUV62-AT autonomous underwater vehicle for anti-submarine warfare training. (Press Release)

Toyota Motor Corp. is reportedly in talks with Alphabet—Google’s parent company—to acquire Boston Dynamics, the maker of the BigDog and Atlas robots. (Boston Business Journal)

The U.S. Air Force awarded RE2 Robotics a $3.3 million contract to develop robots that can assess and repair damage to airfield infrastructure. (Pittsburgh Business Times)

Kazakhstan’s military announced that it has purchased a single Pterodactyl-1 surveillance and strike drone. Also known as the Wing Loong, the Pterodactyl-1 is made by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. (Conflict News)

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