Weekly Roundup 9/14/15

9/7/15 – 9/13/15

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

We have continued our analysis of hundreds of Federal Aviation Administration’s reports of near misses involving drones and manned aircraft. Among other things, we discovered that incidents involving multirotor drones were four times more common than incidents involving fixed wing type drones. Here are our findings.


Drone strikes by Britain’s Royal Air Force killed two British citizens in Syria. The two men, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, were reportedly fighting with the Islamic State. The strikes, which took place in August, were confirmed last week in a speech to Parliament by Prime Minister David Cameron. (BBC)

Pakistan announced that it had used a locally produced drone known as the “Burraq” in its first lethal drone strike. In a statement, military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa said that Pakistan had killed three “high-level” individuals in a strike on a terrorist compound in the northwestern Shawal Valley. (Voice of America)

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen reportedly killed four individuals. The strike, which took place outside of Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, targeted a sport utility vehicle carrying four men who are suspected of being members of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. (Agence France-Presse)

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that proposed strict limits for drone flights. The bill, which was introduced by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, was aimed at protecting individual privacy and would have required drone operators to fly above 350 feet over private property. The legislation drew criticism from commercial drone operators and the drone industry. (USA Today)

The Independent reports that the United Kingdom will begin exporting components of drones to several countries, including Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The exports, which are worth upward of $385.7 million, are reportedly part of a push by British defense contractors to expand their presence in the global market for unmanned systems technology.

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

In a report at Foreign Policy, Siobhan O’Grady writes that the United Nations is failing in its effort to use drones to aid peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The BBC examines the legal grounding for governments that kill their own citizens.

Meanwhile, at Just Security, Noam Lubell takes a look at the concerns that Britain’s drone strikes in Syria are in violation of international law.

Also at Just Security, Anthony Dworkin writes that Britain’s drone strike could signal a new a new direction in Europe’s counterterrorism efforts.

In an interview with the Associated Press, U.S. senator Chuck Schumer calls for stricter regulations for drones, including a requirement that all drones operated in the U.S. be equipped with geofencing technologies. (ABC7)

At the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Jack Serle writes that at least 10 British citizens have now been killed in drone strikes.

At the Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, Adam Goldman and Greg Miller write that the CIA failed to identify and track the American citizen who was held by the Taliban before being killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this year.

At Slate, Steve Casner argues that a drone is unlikely to crash into a manned aircraft any time soon.

Also at Slate, Justin Peters writes that drones, if used responsibly, could be extremely useful for filming sport events.

At Motherboard, Brian Merchant writes that drone inspections of wind turbines could be a $6 billion industry in less than a decade.

At the Financial Times, Farhan Bokhari considers the ways in which China could be helping Pakistan develop its armed drone program.

At the Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Ford takes a look at “Full Contact,” a film about a French drone pilot that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.

Know Your Drone

British-Italian defense company Selex ES has unveiled a system for tracking rogue small drones. The Falcon Shield system can also be used to take control of small drones. (The Telegraph)

The french military has narrowed the competition for a contract to produce a surveillance and reconnaissance tactical drone to two bidders, Thales and Sagem. (Defense News)

Drone manufacturer DJI has developed two new professional-grade cameras for its Inspire 1 quad rotor drone. (Tech Crunch)

Camera manufacturer FLIR has developed a new professional grade infrared camera for use on commercial drones. (Press Release)

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research has released a white paper on maritime autonomous weapons systems and how they might affect the escalation of conflicts at sea. (Defense One)

U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm has developed a chip specifically for use in drones. (Forbes)

Drones at Work

Researchers at the University of Queensland are using drones to map dinosaur tracks in western Australia. (BBC)

Greenpeace formed a new investigative team that will use drones and other imaging technologies to coordinate its campaigns. (The Guardian)

The World Surf League is using drones to capture live footage of events. (Washington Post)

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