The Drone Center’s Weekly Roundup: 8/7/17

The Drone Center’s Weekly Roundup: 8/7/17

The EMILY lifesaver drone. Credit: Hydronalix

July 31, 2017 – August 6, 2017

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In an interview with OpenGov, Center for the Study of the Drone co-director Arthur Holland Michel discusses the main trendlines in the ongoing evolution of drone technology.


A U.S. drone strike in Somalia reportedly killed a member of al-Shabab. In a statement, the U.S. Africa Command said that the strike took place in the Lower Shabelle region, an al-Shabab stronghold. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration is reviewing a drone exports policy established by the Obama administration. According to an official who spoke to DefenseNews, the review is part of a broader effort to find “smarter new approaches to U.S. defense trade policy.” The Obama administration placed controls on drone technology exports to U.S. allies in 2015.

A small tethered drone will help the U.S. Secret Service provide perimeter security during President Trump’s visit to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey this month. In an announcement, the agency said that the test is part of an initiative to explore new technologies for security operations. (Reuters)

Citing cyber vulnerabilities, the U.S. Army has instructed its units to discontinue the use of all drones made by DJI, the popular Chinese manufacturer. The decision appears to have been based on a classified study and a Navy memo on security issues in DJI products. (Reuters)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At Wired, officials at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency discuss the history of the DARPA Grand Challenge, a groundbreaking robotics competition.  

At an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute, Adm. Paul Zukunft discussed the Coast Guard’s history with drone acquisition and operations. (USNI News)

At the BBC, Paul Marks looks at how law enforcement agencies in the U.K. identify and investigate rogue drone users.

At the Ringer, Kate Knibbs considers how police departments in the U.S. are using robots.

At the Middle East Institute, Dennis M. Gormley argues that the Trump administration should continue President Obama’s push to regulate armed drones.

At the Diplomat, Tobias Burgers and Scott N. Romaniuk consider how China’s new maritime loitering munition represents an evolution in drone technology.

Know Your Drone

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation has made a number of upgrades to its CH-4 Rainbow surveillance and strike drone. (IHS Jane’s International Defence Review)

A team of security researchers has demonstrated that sonic blasts can be used to hack a number of electronic devices, including drones. (Fox News)

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Zurich University of the Arts have developed a hexacopter with independently rotating propellers that is capable of flying in far more acrobatic ways than traditional multirotor drones. (Yanko Design)

The University of Michigan has announced that it is developing an outdoor flight testing facility for drones. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

In a project for DARPA, engineering firm Draper and a team from MIT are developing drones that can navigate through complex environments without GPS. (Drone Life)

A team at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is developing an app-based management system for large military drones. (IHS Jane’s International Defence Review)

Following a 10-month definition process, the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation has decided that its European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance drone will have a twin turboprop design. (IHS Jane’s International Defence Review)

Ukraine’s SpetsTechnoExport has conducted a weapons test of its Fantom-2 unmanned ground vehicle. (IHS Jane’s International Defence Review)

U.S. firm Gryphon sensors has unveiled an unmanned traffic management system called Mobile Skylight. (UAS Magazine)

Drones at Work

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which a drone was spotted near a runway at Newark International Airport. (USA Today)

China’s People’s Liberation Army confirmed that it is now operating the CH-901, a loitering munition drone. (Popular Science) For more on loitering munitions, click here.

The Duluth Fire Department in Minnesota is testing EMILY, an unmanned surface vehicle designed for saving stranded swimmers, with an eye to possibly acquiring the system to use on Lake Superior. (Grand Forks Herald)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced a bill that makes it illegal to fly drones near airports without permission. (The Hill)

The Fort Wayne Police Department in Indiana has acquired two drones for a range of operations, including emergency response and environmental surveys. (News Sentinel)

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin has accused a local news channel of invading his privacy after it flew a drone over his private property. (CNET)

A team of researchers from University of Colorado Boulder and Black Swift Technologies are using fixed-wing drones to measure water moisture at a test irrigation farm. (Daily Camera)

The U.S. Army and the Army of the Republic of Macedonia are constructing a 300m-long runway for drones in the Krivolak Training Area. (IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly)

The North Dakota Air National Guard took delivery of its first new MQ-9 Reaper drone. (Associated Press)

The government of Zambia has begun using a Chinese CH-3 drone for surveying applications. (East Pendulum)

Israel has offered to teach special forces units in the Ghana Armed Forces how to use tactical surveillance drones. (IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly)

Jordan Temkin won first place at the Drone Racing League’s 2017 Allianz Circuit Season Finale for the second year in a row. (Drone360)

Google’s Project Wing is seeking approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority to test delivery drones. (Canberra Times)

Industry Intel

3D Robotics partnered with DJI to provide the 3DR Site Scan surveying tools to DJI drones. (Construction Dive)

Snap is reportedly negotiating to buy Zero Zero Robotics, the China-based manufacturer of the Hover Camera selfie drone, for between $150 and $200 million. (TechCrunch)  

Atlas Dynamics, a startup that builds carbon-fiber drones, raised $8 million. (Electronics 360)

Aerobotics, a South African startup that provides drones to agricultural users, raised nearly $600,000 in a seed-funding round led by 4Di Capital and Savannah Fund. (Venture Burn)

Exxaro, a South African mining company, contracted Rocketmine for drones that will create 3D photogrammetry models of mine stockpiles. (IT Web)

U.S. drone services company Measure acquired Pilatus Unmanned, a provider of custom drones for enterprise customers. (Press Release)

The U.S. Army awarded SRC an $11 million contract for electronic warfare improvements to the Small UAS Integrated Defeat System. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $19.9 million contract to identify solutions to “near-term emergent obsolescence issues” for the MQ-4C Triton. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $2.94 million contract for MQ-8 Fire Scout logistics and training sustainment. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $263,762 contract to provide support for the MQ-8 Fire Scout UAS Tactical Control System. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $213,134 contract to provide software to support the integration of the COBRA payload. (FBO)  

The U.S. Navy awarded Insitu a $13,661 contract to provide engineering support for the RQ-21A Blackjack shipboard testing. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $3.35 million contract for an “energy innovative” and low cost small drone. (FBO)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded BAYSPEC a $44,530 contract for a hyperspectral imager that can be integrated onto a drone. (FBO)

DIUx awarded Photon-X a $2.26 million contract for counter-drone “passive real-time 3D sensors.” (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded 3R Robotics a $75,000 contract for virtual reality software. (FBO)

The U.S. Navy awarded Endeavor Robotics a $32,003 contract for a controller for the Endeavor SUGV 310 EOD robot. (FBO)

Indonesia is in talks to buy armed drones from China. (Jane’s)

Singapore’s ST Electronics has purchased an Aveillant Gamekeeper counter-drone system, which it has installed in downtown Singapore. (Today Online)

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