The Drone Center’s Weekly Roundup: 2/1/16

A screen shot from the video purportedly from an Iranian drone that flew close to a U.S. aircraft carrier. Via: Washington Post.

A screen shot from the video purportedly from an Iranian drone that flew close to a U.S. aircraft carrier. Via: Washington Post.

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Immediately following the detonation of Gilda at Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946, a ghostly fleet of aircraft flew into the rising mushroom cloud. They looked like manned military airplanes, but they were actually drones. Here is the little-known story of the crucial role that drones played in Operation Crossroads.


Iranian state-run media released a video purporting to show an Iranian drone flying close to an American aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. In a statement, U.S. Navy spokesperson Cmdr. William Marks said that an unarmed Iranian unmanned aircraft did in fact fly in proximity to U.S. and French aircraft carriers on January 12, the same day that a U.S. Navy patrol boat was seized by Iran near Farsi Island. (Washington Post)

A report by the Intercept suggests that American and British intelligence agencies hacked into the video feeds of Israeli military drones. The program, known as Operation Anarchist, was revealed in a slideshow from the the U.K.’s signals intelligence bureau, which had been provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the Intercept.

A Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the White House for documents relating to the Obama administration’s targeted killing program. The appeal, which was brought by Main Street Legal Services, Inc. at the City University of New York School of Law, sought the release of a list of the targets of drone strikes. (The Hill)  

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

A new paper by Michael C. Horowitz, Sarah E. Kreps, and Matthew Furhmann examines whether concerns over drone proliferation are justified. (SSRN)

At Wired, Tim Moynihan weighs the benefits and downsides of current and future traffic management systems for drones.

At Fast Company, Neal Ungerleider profiles Workhouse, an Ohio-based startup that plans to take on Amazon with a drone delivery system of its own.  

The British Airline Pilots Association is calling for stricter drone regulations over concerns that a drone could strike a passenger plane. (Financial Times)

At the New York Times, Nick Bilton reflects on what it means to be spied upon by a drone.

A report by the National Commission on the Future of the Army recommends that the Pentagon invest more in counter-drone measures. (Breaking Defense)

At Open Democracy, Daniele Archibugi argues that drone strikes are war crimes, calling the targeted killing campaign a “high-tech barbarian practice.”

At Bellingcat, Adam Rawnsley takes a look at the role that Iranian drones play in the war in Syria.  

At Drone Laws Blog, Jeffrey Antonelli offers a beginner’s guide to legally flying a drone in the United States.

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler revisits a 2011 incident in which local police in North Dakota used a Predator to help arrest a rancher.

At DefenseNews, Tom Kington reports that all five of NATO’s Global Hawks are expected to arrive in Sicily by the end of the year, along with 600 personnel.

At Slate, Jesse Kirkpatrick considers the possible psychological risks faced by drone operators.

At the Houston Press, Chris Lane argues that it is better to consult with law enforcement before shooting down a drone that is flying over your property.

The Congressional Research Service released a report that examines the different policy and regulatory challenges associated with integrating drones into the National Airspace System.

The exhibition “To See Without Being Seen,” now on show at the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis, brings together a diverse range of contemporary artworks that address drone warfare.  

Turkish photographer Aydin Büyüktas used a drone to create cinematic warped images of Istanbul. (Booooooom)

Know Your Drone

Belgian company Unify is in the final stages of developing an airspace traffic management system for small, low-altitude drones. (Flightglobal)

Hydroswarm, a U.S. startup, is developing a small, cheap underwater drone for a variety of applications, including undersea mapping as well as mine detection and search operations. (Guardian)

A Google patent has been released showing that the company’s proposed Project Wing drone delivery system will involve both aerial and ground-based unmanned vehicles. (International Business Times)

Meanwhile, Google is testing ways of beaming 5G wireless Internet from solar-powered drones. (Guardian)

And the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has released a report on its investigation of an incident in which a Google solar-powered drone crashed during testing last May. Investigators found that an unexpected thermal current caused the aircraft to exceed its speed limit, causing its wings to separate from the fuselage. (NBC News)

Examining the state of drone technology today, Quartz explains why drone delivery might not be as close to becoming a reality as you’d think.

Drones at Work

Japan is exploring the possibility of using drones to protect crops from intrusive monkeys. (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Sebastian Anthony, a reporter for Ars Technica, tried racing drones and found it much harder than he expected.

Meanwhile, investors raised $8 million to fund the Drone Racing League. (MarketWatch)

German airline Lufthansa signed a deal with hobby drone manufacturer DJI to use drones for inspecting aircraft surfaces and wind turbines. (Reuters)

BNSF Railway and the FAA are experimenting with drones to test air quality and inspect railroad bridges. (Mashable)

Britain’s National Health Service will equip each of its Hazardous Area Response Teams with drones for use in chemical or biological emergencies. (New Scientist)

A drone belonging to the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership of Virginia Tech was used in the search for Nicole Lovell, a missing 13-year-old girl. (WSLS10)

A drone was flown inside the New Mexico State Capitol during debate over an education bill. (Popular Science)

Project Last Mile, a pilot program funded by the UNFPA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, uses drones to deliver medical supplies to rural areas in Ghana. (Huffington Post)

Meanwhile, a project in India is attempting to use drones to quickly and safely deliver organs across busy urban areas. (Newsweek)

Researchers at Idaho State University are exploring ways of using drones to detect diseases in potato crops. (Associated Press)

Italian startup Heli-Lab is using drones to deliver Internet to remote areas of Sicily. (PSFK)

California residents are using drones to document the effects of El Niño. (NBC News)

The Footville Fire Department in Wisconsin obtained a drone for search and rescue operations and other related missions. (GazetteXtra)

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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