Weekly Roundup 9/3/18


The U.S. Navy selected Boeing to build the MQ-25 Stingray refueler drone. Photo by Boeing.

August 27, 2018 – September 2, 2018

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Top Stories

The U.S. Navy has selected Boeing to build the MQ-25A Stingray, a carrier-based refueler drone that the Navy hopes will extend the range of manned fighter aircraft. The Navy awarded Boeing an $805 million contract for four initial airframes, which will achieve initial operational capability by 2024. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin also competed for the contract. (The Washington Post)

Aeronautics, an Israeli military drone manufacturer, will be charged with various fraud and export violations stemming from reports that the company was involved in an Azerbaijani drone attack on an Armenian military post. In a statement, Israel’s Justice Ministry said that the charges are the result of a yearlong investigation into Aeronautics’ dealings with Azerbaijan. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a new roadmap for the development of drone systems and technologies. “Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap 2017-2042” explores issues such as autonomy, human-machine collaboration, and network security. (USNI)

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced new regulations for civilian drone use. The new rules, which will go into effect in December, will require commercial operators to obtain a license and all drones to have unique identification numbers. The regulations also bans foreigners from flying drones in the country’s airspace. (Times of India)

At a meeting of the United Nations’ Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the U.S. and Russia blocked a motion that would have initiated formal negotiations to ban lethal autonomous weapons. The U.N. CCW has been meeting to discuss the issue since 2013. (Politico EU)

U.S. hobby drone maker Autel Robotics is calling on the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of drones made by the Chinese firm DJI. In a complaint filed with the trade agency last week, Autel argues that the DJI drones violate Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and hurt competition. The complaint escalates an ongoing dispute over patent infringement between the two companies. (Bloomberg)

Know Your Drone

Drone makers Urban Drones and SwellPro unveiled the Spry, a camera-equipped quadcopter that can operate both in the air and underwater. (New Atlas)

Researchers from the University of Washington are developing a transponder system that allows drones to operate without a GPS link. (Futurity)

A team from the National University of Singapore has developed a solar-powered quadcopter drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have built an underwater drone, the RangerBot, designed to kill an invasive species of starfish in the Great Barrier Reef. (Business Insider)

Technology firm Epson has released an app for piloting DJI drones with its Moverio augmented reality glasses. (The Drive)

Aerospace firm Faradair is developing the BEHA M1-AT, a large drone designed for dropping suppressant on wildfires. (Press Release)

At the Uber Elevate Asia Pacific Expo, Uber revealed new details about its drone-based food delivery service. (Mashable)

A team from the University of Luxembourg is developing a counter-drone system that consists of a swarm of drones that intercept an intruding drone and either neutralize it or escort it to safety. (TechXplore)

Drones at Work

The Houthi rebel group in Yemen claimed that it conducted a second successful drone attack on Dubai International Airport with a Sammad-3 drone. The General Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates denied the group’s claims. (Jane’s)

In a military exercise near the Caspian Sea, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces demonstrated an Israeli-made Harop loitering munition drone. (C4ISRNET) For more on loitering munitions, click here.

East China Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base, a large test facility in Shanghai, was officially opened for operations. (Xinhua)

Automaker Ford is using drones to inspect high-off -the-ground structures and equipment at its Dagenham production facility in the U.K. (Road Show)

The North Carolina Department of Transportation and startup Matternet are beginning test flights for a three-year medical drone delivery pilot program. (News Observer)

Meanwhile, as part of a joint pilot program, Direct Relief, Merck, AT&T, Softbox, and Volans-I are testing emergency medical delivery drones in Puerto Rico. (AUVSI)

Transport Infrastructure Ireland has launched a five-year program to inspect the country’s motorway system with aerial drones. (The Irish Times)

The Denver Police Department has suspended an effort to use a consumer quadcopter to inspect crime scenes. (The Denver Post)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched an effort to use an underwater drone to collect water samples for algal bloom studies in Lake Erie. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

A Washington State drone pilot is asking volunteers to analyze his aerial footage of a remote area in the North Cascades for signs of a hiker who went missing in the area earlier this month. (Huffington Post)

Meanwhile, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia used a drone to aid in the search for a man who went missing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. (NBC Washington)

Australian firm Hazelwood Forestry is using drones to inspect each tree it intends to fell for the presence of Koalas. (Latrobe Valley Express)

A Saildrone unmanned surface vessel has been recovered from a remote island in New Zealand after it was lost during an attempt to make the first unmanned circumnavigation of the globe. (Stuff)

Police in Northern Cyprus seized a drone that was being used to smuggle narcotics over the Greek Cypriot border. (Reuters)

Industry Intel

The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a $9.4 million contract modification for the multi-spectral targeting system for the MQ-4C Triton. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Hydroid a $56,575 contract for REMUS 100 operator and basic maintenance training. (FBO)

The U.S. Army awarded L-3 Communications EO/IR a $454 million contract for electro-optic, infrared, and laser designator payloads for the RQ-7B V2 Shadow. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded CAE USA a $15.4 million contract for MQ-9 Reaper aircrew training and courseware development. (DoD)

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency increased the value of a previously awarded contract to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems for work on the Low Power Laser Demonstrator from $23.4 million to $34 million. (DoD)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency increased the value of a previously awarded contract to Lockheed Martin for the same program from $12.2 million to $37.7 million. (DoD)

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Cape May County, New Jersey a $3 million grant to build facilities for drone training and operations at the Cape May County Airport. (Philly Voice)

Deveron, a Toronto-based agricultural drone firm, acquired Veritas Farm Management, a data analytics company. (UAS Magazine)

The U.S. National Science Foundation awarded Rice University a $1.5 million grant for work on a drone that can detect volatile chemical compounds. (DroneBelow)

Drone services company DroneHive has partnered with Red Mountain Scientific to provide drones for cell tower inspections. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Lockheed Martin joined a Series B funding round for Ocean Aero, a San Diego-based company that builds unmanned maritime vehicles. (Washington Business Journal)

New York’s NUAIR Alliance has partnered with Belgian firm Unifly on the development of an unmanned traffic management system. (Utica Observer-Dispatch)

ECA Group delivered an IGUANA E unmanned ground vehicle to the Monaco Public Security Department. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

As part of the Defence Innovation Hub program, the Australian Ministry of Defence signed an $AUD 2.1 million contract with UAV Vision to develop a compact micro gimbal and a $AUD 283,000 with Textron Systems Australia for small UAS payloads. (Press Release)

L3 Technologies acquired Latitude Engineering, an Arizona-based company that builds hybrid quadrotor drones. (Arizona Daily Star)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In a U.S. nationwide poll, the Brookings Institution found that respondents were divided on whether artificial intelligence should be developed for warfare.

A report by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International analyzes the more than 2,000 Part 107 waivers granted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. (Press Release)

At Popular Mechanics, Kyle Mizokami investigates a strange photo of a German warship and what it reveals about its counter-drone capabilities.

At the Leavenworth Times, Mark Rountree looks at how local schools and government agencies in Leavenworth, Kansas are using drones.

At The South China Morning Post, Kristin Huang writes that Chinese military experts fear that China’s counter-drone technologies are struggling to keep up with the evolution of drones. Center co-directed Arthur Holland Michel was interviewed for this story.

In an interview with The Verge’s Sono Motoyama, Amandeep Gill discusses the ways in which the United Nations can shape the future of lethal autonomous weapons.

At the BBC, Kevin Keane writes that police and wildlife experts are concerned that drones are disturbing bird and animal sanctuaries in Scotland.

Photographer Reuben Wu used a drone equipped with a lighting rig and to create ghostly long-exposure photos of airborne glowing symbols. (PetaPixel)

Correction: In last week’s Roundup, we incorrectly identified Hasselblad as a German company. Hasselblad is headquartered in Sweden.

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