Weekly Roundup 9/8/14

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Today the Center for the Study of the Drone released The Drone Primer: A Compendium of the Key Issues, an online and print publication about the basic facts, questions, and patterns related to drones in military, civilian, and commercial contexts. This inquiry-driven handbook, written with the general reader in mind, covers the fundamentals in technology, history, law, strategy, and culture. It corrects what the authors identified as a lack of straightforward, unbiased reporting on the issue of drones. If you would like to request a print copy, please let us know at [email protected].


The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the leader of al-Shabab, was killed in a drone strike in Somalia. Godane is thought to be responsible for expanding al-Shabab’s operations in east Africa, as well as cementing ties with al-Qaeda. The strike took place in the coastal city of Barawe, an al-Shabab hotspot. (NPR) For more on U.S. counterterrorism activity in the Horn of Africa, click here.

A man was arrested in New York City for allegedly flying his drone over the U.S. Open. Daniel Feighery, a resident of Yonkers, was charged with reckless endangerment, violation of a local law, and failure to comply with a sign. (CNN)

The government of New Zealand is looking into the possibility of using drones to patrol  the country’s coastline. A report from the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee suggested that drones could replace the Air Force’s manned P-3K2 Orion surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. (New Zealand Herald)

A drone that appeared to be a U.S. Predator was spotted flying over the Syrian city of Raqqa, a stronghold of ISIS. The photos of the drone came from “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered,” a group of activists in eastern Syria that are documenting ISIS activity. (ABC)

The U.S. Department of Defense is preparing to open a new base for drone aircraft in Niger. The surveillance drones have until now been based at a site near Niamey, the country’s capital, but some of the aircraft may soon relocate 500 miles northeast to the city of Agadez. The move comes as Islamic groups make gains in several North African countries, including Libya, where militants recently seized the former U.S. Embassy compound. The new base will be the third U.S. drone base in the region. (The Washington Post) For more on American drone operations in Niger,click here.

Mexico is reportedly increasing its reliance on drones to fight drug cartels. In a report submitted to Mexico’s Congress, the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto claimed that the military flew 149 patrols using drone aircraft in the past year, totaling 581 flight hours. (ABC News)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At War is Boring, Adam Rawnsley declares that “like it or not, Iran is a drone power.

Also at War is Boring, David Cenciotti takes a look at the drones used by ISIS.

At Defense One, Stephanie Gaskell writes that the recent drone strike in Somalia “reflects President Obama’s counterterrorism strategy.”

Meanwhile, at Just Security, Ryan Goodman argues that there is a legal difference between targeting the individual Ahmed Godane and targeting al-Shabab as a whole.

In the “Air and Space Power Journal,” U.S. Air Force Captain Joseph O’Chapa argues that Islamic militants are using U.S. drone strikes to fuel an effective recruitment campaign.

The BBC takes a look at how drones fit into a massive NATO exercise that tests the military alliance’s ability to gather aerial intelligence.

In a short documentary on drones, Al Jazeera’s Imran Garda considers what happens when a military technology is adopted for use on the domestic front. (YouTube)

After a 58-year-old woman was sentenced to one year in jail for protesting drones, Mashable visited the New York Air National Guard base where she was arrested. (YouTube)

At The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova argues that while increased automation in cockpits prevents some accidents caused by human error, it may in fact cause other accidents by making pilots more complacent.

Know Your Drone

NASA is looking to develop a system that tracks and monitors unmanned aircraft in the air, which it will call Unmanned aerial system Traffic Management (UTM). (NBC News)

Boeing Defense has unveiled an anti-aircraft laser that it says is ideal for bringing down drones. (Wired)

Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio have received a $300,000 Department of Defense grant to develop a system for controlling drones with brain signals.

Teams from National Defence and Defence Research and Development Canada have begun testing drones in the Arctic to see how they perform in harsh climates. (Motherboard)

Students at Australia’s Wollongong University have developed a drone that is designed to carry a floatation device to swimmers in distress. (7 News)

Richard Branson, an English business mogul, announced that he was investing in 3D Robotics, a company that makes commercial quadcopter drones. (Virgin)

Drones at Work

Police in Beijing used drones to search for drug fields. (ECNS)

Video shot with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter shows the beginning of construction on Apple’s massive “Campus 2” in Cupertino, California (YouTube)

A ram took down a quadcopter drone and then chased after its owner. (Boing Boing)

You may have had a good summer, but these drone-equipped surfers on the Mentawai Islands, probably had a better one. (YouTube)

For updates, news, and commentary, follow us on Twitter!

For Mashable’s take on the week in drone news, check out Drone Beat.

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