Weekly Roundup 8/5/19

July 29, 2019 – August 4, 2019

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Top Stories

Switzerland’s national postal service, Swiss Post, has suspended drone delivery operations indefinitely after two of its drones, developed by the U.S. firm Matternet, crashed earlier this year. In the first incident, in January, one of the service’s quadcopters crashed into Lake Zurich, while a second drone crashed in May near a group of kindergarteners after its parachute system failed. In a statement released in June, Swiss Post said that it intends to resume its drone delivery program but expects Matternet to make several safety improvements to the systems. (IEEE Spectrum)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has released a new version of B4UFLY, an app that provides information about where drone users can and cannot fly. The app redesign was led by drone firm Kittyhawk and incorporates real-time information such as temporary flight restrictions. (VentureBeat)

An analysis by U.S. Central Command has found that Iran did not warn the U.S. before it shot down an RQ-4 Global Hawk in international airspace in June. Iran has said that it issued repeated warnings before shooting down the aircraft. (Military.com)

Know Your Drone

Korean Air Aerospace Division has conducted the first flight of its 500MD converted unmanned helicopter and announced plans to similarly convert other manned aircraft types. (FlightGlobal)

Australian firm DroneShield unveiled the RfZero, a counter-drone jamming system. (Shephard Media)

Chinese firm OXAI Aircraft conducted the maiden flight of its MOZI 2, a high-altitude, long-endurance solar-powered drone. (Futurism)

Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corporation unveiled the ISPUM/ISPUM-E, a mine countermeasures system that incorporates an unmanned undersea vehicle. (Jane’s)

Singaporean firm ST Engineering unveiled an unmanned variant of its Next-Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle. (Jane’s)

Hungarian startup Ku-Me Invest Kft unveiled the MP-H, a fixed-wing surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (AIN online)

The U.S Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency conducted an exercise for its Squad X program in which human soldiers worked alongside unmanned ground vehicles. (C4ISRNET)

Chinese drone maker DJI unveiled a high-definition, low-latency first-person-view system for racing drones. (New Atlas)

Meanwhile, FPV systems maker Fat Shark unveiled the Byte Frost, an HD FPV system. (Drone DJ)

A team at the University of Tokyo is developing robots made of sticks that can teach themselves to walk regardless of their shape. (C4ISRNET)

The German Aerospace Center is preparing to begin test flights of an autonomous gyrocopter for freight operations. (Aviation Week)

Drones at Work

Authorities in Coconino County, Arizona are experimenting with delivery drones to transport vote tallies from remote Havasupai communities in the Grand Canyon during elections. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Navy conducted a series of sea trials of various maritime unmanned systems from its USNS Spearhead expeditionary fast transport ship. (Jane’s)

A drone operated by a search and rescue volunteer helped find a man who was missing for five days in Maryland. (Associated Press)

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Washington announced that it is expanding its public safety drones program and said that its existing drone fleet has been deployed more than 170 times since the start of 2018. (Government Technology)

Meanwhile, the Pittsburg Police Department in California used a drone to monitor a standoff with an armed man. (The Mercury News)

Authorities in Lyon, France have deployed tethered surveillance drones for traffic monitoring operations. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.K. Royal Air Force announced that it plans to retire its fleet of MQ-9 Reapers in 2024 as they are replaced by the MQ-9B Protector. (Aviation Week)

The U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command used an underwater drone to discover the hull of a WWII submarine that was lost off the Aleutian Islands in 1942. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Elected officials in Michigan approved a bill regulating the use of certain drones on Mackinac Island, a popular tourist destination that sits in Lake Huron. (Cheboygan Daily Tribune)

Industry Intel

Airinov, a French agriculture drone startup, will cease operations after parent company Parrot found that it could no longer sustain the venture. (Future Farming)

The U.S. Army awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $21.7 million contract modification for MQ-1C Gray Eagle extended range spares and support equipment. (DoD)

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $950 million sale of contractor logistics support services for South Korea’s planned fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawks. (UPI)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Ascent Vision Technologies a contract for X-MADIS counter-drone vehicles. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems a $23.8 million contract for two High Energy Laser Weapons Systems for defending against drones. (DoD)

The U.S. Office of Naval Research awarded ThayerMahan a $19.4 million contract to work on developing autonomous systems. (Naval Technology)

Liteye Systems is partnering with Red Six Solutions to further develop the Anti-UAS Defense System. (AUVSI)

The U.K. Ministry of Defense awarded L3Harris Technologies a contract for T7 bomb-disposal robots. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.S. Department of Transportation has partnered with Sea Machines Robotics to demonstrate the ways in which unmanned surface vehicles can be used to respond to marine oil spills. (AUVSI)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At FlightGlobal, Craig Hoyle looks at how the U.K. intends to transition from operating the MQ-9 Reaper to the Protector RG1 by 2024.

At bellingcat, Khalil Dewan describes the ways in which non-state groups in Yemen are seeking to avoid drone strikes.

In a discussion at The New York Times, Toby Walsh argues that autonomous weapons should be banned.

At Popular Mechanics, Kyle Mizokami charts the history of the Air Force’s secretive X-37B unmanned spacecraft.

At C4ISRNET, Kelsey D. Atherton writes that the new Marker armed unmanned ground vehicle could be a sign of Russia’s progress in this field.


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