Weekly Roundup 8/5

A still from a video in showing a Ukrainian rebel flashes the peace sign in front of the downed Tupalev, a drone seemingly belonging to the Ukrainian military. Credit: Daily Mail.
A still from a video in showing a Ukrainian rebel flashes the peace sign in front of the downed Tupalev, a drone seemingly belonging to the Ukrainian military. Credit: Daily Mail.

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In a video posted on YouTube, separatists in Ukraine showed off a downed government reconnaissance drone that they claim to have shot down. The aircraft, a Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-143, bears Ukrainian military insignia. In a statement, the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorism Operation press center said it believes the reconnaissance drone was shot down using a BUK missile launcher. (Interpreter Magazine)

The Los Angeles Police Department has asked the city’s attorney general if there is any way to prevent citizens from flying drones above police stations. The LAPD submitted the inquiry after a man from South Bay posted a video of aerial footage of his local police station. “It’s kind of like if it was your house, if they’re flying over your backyard you’d start asking questions about it,” said LAPD officer Lt. Michael Ling. (Los Angeles Times)

Civil liberties groups in California are decrying the San Jose Police Department’s purchase of a ground robot. According to SJPD spokesman Albert Morales the $7000 robot will be used “for bomb purposes and bomb purposes only.” (San Jose Mercury News)

Police in South Carolina arrested a man in connection with an attempted drone smuggling operation. Brenton Lee Doyle was taken into custody for allegedly using a drone to transport marijuana, tobacco and cell phones into Lee Correctional Institute in Bishop, South Carolina. A second suspect remains at large. (Washington Post)

A Syracuse jury acquitted an anti-drone activist charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration. Russell Brown, a Baltimore resident, was arrested when he blocked a roadway during a protest at the New York Air National Guard base in Syracuse. Twenty other activists face similar charges. (Baltimore Nonviolence Center)

Brazil began exports of its first military drone, the Horus FT-100. The small reconnaissance and surveillance drone, which is made by FT Sistemas S.A., was sold to an unnamed country in Africa. (International Business Times)

The British House of Lords will begin an inquiry into the civilian domestic drone use. The inquiry is part of a broader effort by the European Commission to understand the implications of domestic drones. According to committee chair Baroness O’Cathain, the increase in civilian drone use brings “a raft of issues that need to be addressed, such as whether safety considerations are and should be standard across Europe.” (The Guardian)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At the New York Times, James Barron describes the explosive popularity of drones among hobbyists in New York City and the attendant challenge of regulating an increasingly busy airspace.

Also at the Times, Marianne Rohrlich writes that drone photographers are fast becoming a popular fixture at weddings.

At the Huffington Post, Kevin Short and Harry Bradford create 24 GIFs of popular drone videos that “show you the world like you’ve never seen it before.”

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler argues that the FAA’s planned crackdown on drone operators might do more than just stifle start-up companies. The rules “also threaten to kill dozens of companies who have been in business—legally—for years,” argues Koebler.

At Mapbox, Bobby Sudekum offers a quick tutorial on using drone imagery to create detailed maps.

In an interview with TMZ, the Steve Ginsburg, who runs the paparazzi agency AKM-GSI, admits to using drones to capture photos of celebrities.

At The State, Adam Rothstein explores the sounds of drones and what they mean. “Drone is the sound that was always there, but that we have only recently discovered,” writes Rothstein.

At War on the Rocks, Paul Scharre argues that the biggest threat to the development of robotic systems is the U.S. military’s “hidebound cultures and entrenched bureaucracies.”

At the Aviationist, David Cenciotti points out the unfamiliar armaments attached to an Israeli Hermes drone that was photographed flying over Gaza.

At War is Boring, Robert Beckhusen argues that the Israel-Gaza conflict highlights the limitations of Israel’s air strength.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the purchase of a ground robot by the San Jose Police Department, arguing that the drone is the first step towards unwarranted police surveillance on citizens.

Know Your Drone

Israel has deployed its newest military drone, the Elbit Systems Hermes 900, ahead of schedule so that it can be used in operation “Protective Edge.” (IHLS)

Researchers at the University of Sydney have developed a solar-powered unmanned ground vehicle that patrols agricultural fields, monitoring crop health. (Motherboard)

Commercial and hobby drone maker DJI has unveiled a professional-grade hexacopter that has a retractable landing gear and is capable of carrying up to 5kg for 18 minutes. (Peta Pixel)

Drones at Work

Conservation authorities in India are planning to deploy drones to 10 wildlife parks across the country to protect tigers and other endangered species. (Times of India)

The Russian state news agency RT posted a video of drone footage filmed by an army reserve division following the recent earthquake in China’s Yunan Province.

And a veteran rock climber in Macedonia got roped into rescuing a drone that was stuck on top of a church steeple. (FStoppers)

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