Weekly Roundup 8/26/19

August 19, 2019 – August 25, 2019

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Top Stories

Israel’s military launched an airstrike against an Iranian drone base in Syria, and may have used its own drones for two concurrent operations against Iran-backed groups in Lebanon and Iraq. In a statement, a military spokesperson said that the IDF targeted a base in Syria where the Quds force was preparing to launch “killer drones” into Israeli territory. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, two Israeli drones crashed at the site of a media center run by the Iranian-back Hezbollah group in a suburb of Beirut. And in Iraq, an Iranian-backed militia blamed Israel for launching a drone strike that killed one of its commanders. (The Washington Post)

The U.K. Royal Air Force unveiled its new long-endurance surveillance and strike drone, the Protector, at a ceremony at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The Protector can carry up to 18 precision-guided missiles and remain airborne for 40 hours. It is certified to operate within civilian airspace and can be launched remotely with a laptop. The RAF will acquire 16 Protectors to replace its fleet of MQ-9 Reapers. (The Telegraph)

The Japanese government announced plans to implement a new public drone registration system by 2022. Under the new rules, which is expected to pass through the legislature in 2021, drone operators will register their aircraft through an online portal. The program will also likely include provisions for issuing experimental permits for operations such as package deliveries. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Know Your Drone

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense Armaments Bureau is developing three new military multirotor drones, including a vehicle-launched target detection system for mortar fire operations, a surveillance drone, and a weaponized drone. (Jane’s)

Russian firm Uralvagonzavod is developing two unmanned variants of the T-72B3 main battle tank: one version equipped with heavy weapons and another equipped with automatic guns. (Jane’s)

Drone makers UAVOS and ISR Unmanned Technologies unveiled the jointly developed ISR-350-5, an unmanned surveillance helicopter. (Shephard News)

Israeli firm Capture systems unveiled the Anti-Threat Intelligent Detector, a monitoring system capable of detecting and tracking drones. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

U.S. firms Liberty Dynamic and ReconRobotics are developing a variant of the Throwbot 2 unmanned ground vehicle equipped with a flash-bang grenade. (AUVSI)

The Russian Defense Ministry conducted the maiden flight of its upgraded Altius-U, a satellite-controlled high-altitude long-endurance surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (Aviation Week)

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency held the Subterranean Challenge, a competition to develop unmanned vehicles capable of navigating a dense underground environment autonomously. (Press Release)

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a number of partner institutions have begun testing the Mesobot, an unmanned undersea vehicle designed to track marine life at depths of up to 1,000 meters for 24 hours. (Phys.org)

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation unveiled the JARI, a “combat ready” multi-role unmanned surface vessel. (Shephard Media)

A team from the University of Moncton and UPSSITECH is developing an algorithm that enables drones to track and follow other drones at high speeds. (Drone Below)

A team at the University of Kentucky is developing a system of autonomous drones for assisting in tracking the health of cows in large herds. (CNET)

A team at the University of Kansas is developing a drone-mounted radar suite to collect data on Greenland’s ice sheets. (Press Release)

Drones at Work

The Houthi group in Yemen shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone southeast of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. It is the second Reaper to be shot down in Yemen in the past three months. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, the Houthis launched a drone attack on a large oil field in Saudi Arabia, causing a fire at the facility. The oil field’s operator said that the site was unaffected by the attack. (Deutsche Welle)

A team from the Middle Technical University in Baghdad and the University of South Australia conducted a test in which a drone carrying a first aid kit was dispatched to simulated patients in need of medical attention across a broad area. (IEEE Spectrum)

The town council of Prairie Village in Kansas is preparing to pass an ordinance that would prohibit the use of drones over private property without the owner’s consent. (The Kansas City Star)

Surf Life Saving Queensland and the Little Ripper Group are deploying drones to monitor for saltwater crocodiles at popular swimming spots in Queensland, Australia. (ZDNet)

Utility company Xcel Energy has begun using drones to inspect power lines in Minnesota and announced plans to expand operations into other states. (BusinessNorth)

Security firm BlueForce UAV deployed a long-range drone detection system at the Abbotsford International Airshow in the U.K. (sUAS News)

New Zealand insurance firm Old Mutual iWYZE is launching a program to use drones to gather data to process insurance claims. (Gadget)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Army awarded AeroVironment a $45.2 million contract for RQ-11B Raven drones for the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades. (DefenseWorld.net)

Meanwhile, AeroVironment donated 87 Quantix drones to 35 U.S. universities to advance the use of drones in farming. (Press Release)

Ontario-based agricultural drone firm Deveron UAS acquired Atlas Team, a digital agriculture provider based in Kansas City, Missouri. (UnmannedAerial.com)

The Commercial Drone Alliance has partnered with DroneResponders to help public safety agencies develop their own drone programs. (Press Release)

The Portuguese Army has launched a program to assess whether it should acquire a range of small drones. (Jane’s)

Deliveries of the EuroMALE drone are unlikely to begin until the late 2020s, according to a study by OCCAR, the European defense procurement organization. (FlightGlobal)

Maryland’s Salisbury Regional Airport will build an 8,000 square-foot hangar for drone development and testing with a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce. Sentinel Robotics Solutions has signed a five-year agreement to operate the facility. (WBOC16)

French drone firm Parrot launched a drone rental program for enterprise customers. (Commercial Drone Professional)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At the Associated Press, Jon Gambrell, Josef Federman, and Zeina Karam write that the recent Israeli attacks are part of a widening drone war in the Middle East.

The Congressional Research Service published a report on lethal autonomous weapons systems and efforts by the international community to regulate “killer robots.” (USNI News)

At C4ISRNET, Shawn Snow writes that the Marine Corps has taken an interest in using unmanned surface vehicles to move and resupply troops.

In an op-ed at C4ISRNET, Christophe Fontaine looks at six emerging capabilities that will guide the evolution of military drones in the future.

At National Defense Magazine, Connie Lee writes that the U.S. Army is pursuing a semi-autonomous robotic combat vehicle.

At Fire Aviation, Bill Gabbert looks at how firefighters are using drones to ignite controlled fires.

At Popular Mechanics, Eric Tegler summarizes the recent study by ASSURE into the risks that drones pose to individuals on the ground.

At Forbes, Kalev Leetaru examines the ways in which manufacturers of drones and driverless cars can help prevent their systems from being used as weapons.

At Breaking Defense, Sydney J. Freedburg Jr. describes how the U.S. Army is preparing for a future war that’s filled with enemy drones.

The inaugural Boston Drone Film Festival will take place on November 15th. (DroneLife)

Meanwhile, DJI and SkyPixel launched the SkyPixel Short Film Contest. (Commercial Drone Professional)