The Drone Center’s Weekly Roundup: 3/6/17

China’s CAIG Wing Loong II on its maiden flight last week. Image via:

February 27, 2017 – March 5, 2017

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

We spoke to The Daily Beast to help make sense of ISIL’s growing use of armed consumer drones in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, we assisted The Verge in confirming that the jail sentence given to a Seattle man for crashing his drone during a parade was in fact unprecedented in the history of U.S. domestic drone use.


A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed two individuals near the border of Afghanistan. If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. drone strike in Pakistan under the Trump administration. (Reuters)

The U.S. launched over 20 airstrikes in Yemen, targeting al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. According to an unnamed U.S. official who spoke with Reuters, the strikes involved both manned and unmanned aircraft.

A U.S. drone strike in Syria reportedly killed Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Al-Rahman, al-Qaeda’s second in command. The strike targeted a vehicle carrying the Egyptian national in Idlib province. (PBS Newshour)

Xinhua news agency reported that China has secured its largest ever export contract for the Wing Loong II drone to an unnamed foreign customer. Developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, the Wing Loong II is larger and heavier than its predecessor. The strike-capable drone made its maiden flight last week. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

Drone Wars UK released a report examining British drone strike data from operations in Iraq and Syria.

Pax for Peace released a report on how different political parties in the Netherlands view the acquisition and deployment of armed drones.

At the New York Times, Katie Benner reports that Snap, the company behind Snapchat, looked into developing a drone.

Also at the New York Times, John Markoff examines the security risks posed by worker and helper robots.

In an in-depth feature at Wired, Douglas Starr profiles a U.S. startup that has developed an advanced counter-drone system, and examines the budding counter-drone industry.

At the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko writes that President Trump could launch more drone strikes than his predecessor.

At India Defence Review, Gp. Capt. Joseph Noronha examines India’s many efforts to develop unmanned aircraft. (Swarajya)

At Commercial UAV News, Jose Antunes examines how drones aid the work of the U.S. Geological Survey.

At The Drive, Tyler Rogoway takes a closer look at images of an RQ-170 Sentinel drone at Vandenberg Air Force base.

At the Verge, Rich McCormick writes that ice is the only thing that can slow down the Ghost Robotics Minitaur robot.

In a podcast at Recode, Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo discusses the potential for drones to contribute to humanitarian relief.

In a paper in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Irving Lachow explores the “upside and downside of swarming drones.”

At Stars and Stripes, Alex Horton examines how an U.S. Army RQ-7 Shadow drone went rogue and flew 630 miles away from its home.

At ZDNet, Bob Violino looks at how robots could contribute to the construction industry.

At Defense One, Patrick Tucker writes that the U.S. Department of Defense is developing systems to counter drone swarms.

At Just Security, Ryan Goodman and Stephen Pomper debate whether or not the U.S. government’s official figures on drone strike casualties can be trusted.

At the Straits Times, Adrian Lim examines Singapore efforts to field the next generation of military drones.

At Shephard Media, Damian Kemp looks at the growth in civil drone operations in Australia.

Know Your Drone

Automaker Ford unveiled a concept for an autonomous delivery system that uses vans and drones. (Engadget)

Robotics firm Boston Dynamics officially unveiled Handle, an advanced autonomous wheeled robot prototype. (TechCrunch)

Photo sharing startup Snap is reportedly working on a consumer drone. (The New York Times)

U.S. startup Cobalt Robotics unveiled an autonomous indoor security robot. (IEEE Spectrum)

The U.S. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is flight testing the ArcticShark, a long-endurance drone that will be used to collect atmospheric data over the Arctic. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology displayed an armed model of its developmental medium-altitude long-endurance surveillance and reconnaissance drone, but declined to confirm whether it is developing an armed variant. (IHS Jane’s 360)

Yemeni rebels displayed a surveillance and reconnaissance drone, the Qasef 1, that appears to be based on the Iranian Ababil 2. (IHS Jane’s 360)

U.S. defense firm Northrop Grumman is testing the MS-177 multispectral sensor aboard its RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance drone. (Executive Biz)

U.S. technology firm Harris Corp., the University of North Dakota, and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site are building a network infrastructure for beyond-line-of-sight drone operations. (GCN)

Internet giant Facebook is planning a new round of test flights of its Aquila high-altitude solar-powered drone. (Bloomberg Quint)

The Russian military is reportedly developing an artillery-launched small unmanned aircraft. (The National interest)

Swiss meteorology company Meteomatics has been granted a patent for a drone that spins its way down to the ground in a controlled manner if it suddenly loses power. (New Atlas)

Drones at Work

The Iraqi Federal Police are reportedly using weaponized consumer drones in operations against ISIL in Mosul. (Bellingcat)

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority is looking to use drones to inspect its network of subway tunnels. (Mashable)

Montana Resources and mining firm Atlantic Richfield Co. are considering using drones to scare snow geese away from a poisoned body of water near an open pit mine. (ABC)

The U.S. Navy announced that it will deploy its MQ-4C Triton high-altitude maritime patrol drone to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam next year, a year later than planned. (IHS Jane’s 360)

The Azerbaijani military has reportedly shot down an Armenian X-55 surveillance drone. (Trend News Agency)

The Cecil County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland has acquired a drone using funds seized during counter-narcotics operations. (Cecil Daily)

The police and fire departments of San Antonio, Texas are preparing to deploy drones for a range of operations. (KSAT)

Industry Intel

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that its “Team Reaper” will compete for Australia’s requirement for an armed unmanned aircraft. (Unmanned Systems Technology)

The U.S. Navy awarded Hadal Inc. a $14.2 million contract for research into developing a Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Textron Systems a $14.8 million contract modification for mine countermeasure system requirements for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System. (DoD)

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing Insitu a $4.7 million contract modification for ScanEagle system hardware and services. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Composite Engineering a contract for a agile pod interfaces on a low cost attritable UAS demonstrator. (FBO)

The U.S. Air Force awarded Amtec Less Lethal Systems a $92,537 contract for gauge counter-drone net rounds. (FBO)

The U.K. Ministry of Defence awarded Leonardo Helicopters a $9.8 million contract to develop unmanned helicopters. (Air Force Technology)

Meanwhile, Leonardo Helicopters will provide PicoSAR radar for the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 unmanned helicopters for an undisclosed country in North Africa. (UPI)

FlightGlobal reports that Israel’s Aeronautic Defense System has received orders for hundreds of Orbiter 1K loitering munitions from an unnamed customer.  For more on loitering munitions, click here.
Defunct drone manufacturer Lily Robotics filed for bankruptcy. (Recode)

For updates, news, and commentary, follow us on Twitter. The Weekly Drone Roundup is a newsletter from the Center for the Study of the Drone. It covers news, commentary, analysis and technology from the drone world. You can subscribe to the Roundup here.

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Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College a research and education initiative that brings together creative thinking and perspectives from a wide variety of academic fields to help the public better understand the drone and its implications.
Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College a research and education initiative that brings together creative thinking and perspectives from a wide variety of academic fields to help the public better understand the drone and its implications.

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