The Drone Center’s Weekly Roundup: 2/13/17

Researchers in Japan are developing a drone that can pollinate flowers. Credit: Eijiro Miyako

February 6, 2017 – February 12, 2017

At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Loitering munitions are a proliferating class of drones that double as precision attack weapons. These systems, which are often small enough to be launched by infantry units, can orbit over the battlefield for extended periods before striking a target like a missile, in some cases autonomously. We have investigated this emerging field in order to identify which countries operate loitering munitions, what these weapons are capable of, and their implications for the future of war.


A U.S. drone strike in Syria killed Abu Hani al-Masri, a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda. The strike targeted a motorcycle in Idlib province. In addition to serving in al-Qaeda, Al-Masri was a founding member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. (Voice of America)

A U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed Rachid Kassim, a senior member of ISIL. The strike took place near Mosul. Kassim, a French citizen, was responsible for communicating with France-based operatives and planning attacks. According to a U.S. official who spoke with CNN, the strike was carried out by a drone. (CNN)

The U.S. Navy has shut down an office dedicated to managing the development and integration of unmanned systems for the entire naval force. The Office of Unmanned Warfare Systems, also known as N99, was established in mid-2015. The responsibilities of the office will be divided among other departments. (Defense News)

Commentary, Analysis, and Art

At RUSI, Peter Roberts argues that the Navy’s unmanned warfare office achieved what it set out to do before it was closed down.

At Bellingcat, Nick Waters examines the types of ordnance launched from ISIL drones.

Meanwhile, at Stratfor, Scott Stewart argues that it’s only a matter of time before ISIL’s drone tactics inspire similar attacks against targets in Europe and the U.S.

At Reuters, Marine Pennetier reports that France is taking steps to secure its airspace against potential drone attacks.

At Popular Science, Kelsey D. Atherton examines the challenge of countering armed consumer drones.

At TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas writes that industry analysts doubt that drone deliveries will be a reality for at least several years.

At Recode, April Glaser writes that President Trump’s executive order restricting new regulations is a setback for the drone industry.

At U.S. News and World Report, Dawn Reiss considers the best ways to invest in the drone industry.

At the Modern War Institute, M.L. Cavanaugh argues that it would be unwise to place too much faith in technology-based strategies like the Third Offset.

At The Drive, Tyler Rogoway looks at how defense firm Kratos is betting that it can develop and field the next generation of military strike drones.

At Bloomberg, Henri Gendreau and Alan Levin explain why the drone swarm in Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime Show was pretaped.

At Hyperallergic, Kirsten O’Regan reviews an exhibition of Mahwish Chisty’s drone art at the Imperial War Museum in London.

At Just Security, Adil Ahmad Haque examines how the Trump administration could alter the targeting guidelines for drone strikes established by the Obama administration.

Also at Just Security, Gabor Rona argues that the Director of National Intelligence report on U.S. counterterrorism strikes is “not credible.”

At War is Boring, David Cenciotti traces a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance flight over Libya.

At Aviation Week, Lara Seligman examines the U.S. Navy’s progress in developing a carrier-based unmanned tanker.

At Drone360, Brandon Stark surveys the efforts undertaken by the University of California system to develop drones for a range of applications.

At IEEE Spectrum, Evan Ackerman looks at how one of NASA’s autonomous robots is helping with housekeeping on the International Space Station.

At East Pendulum, Henri Kenhmann examines whether China’s development of the second generation Wing Loong drone might be at the request of Saudi Arabia.

Know Your Drone

A team from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has demonstrated a microdrone that can transport pollen between flowers like a bee. (New Scientist)

U.S. aerospace firm Aurora Flight Sciences demonstrated a device that launches and retrieves drones, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency SideArm program. (Wired)

Israeli firm Flying Production unveiled the Thor, an autonomous surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (FlightGlobal)

Singapore-based firm Infinium Robotics is developing drones for stocktaking in warehouses. (CNBC)

Israel Aerospace Industries has unveiled the Heron TP, an export specific version of its long-endurance surveillance and reconnaissance drone. (FlightGlobal)

The U.S. Army is seeking to develop an electronic warfare system for its Gray Eagle surveillance and strike drone. (Defense News)

China’s ministry of national defense is testing a large solar-powered long-endurance drone that can operate at high altitudes. (UPI) For more on high-altitude drones, click here.

Technology firm InnoCorp unveiled the SubMurres, an unmanned undersea vehicle that can also fly. (Space Daily)

Drones at Work

State senators in New Mexico are considering a bill that would restrict the use of drones over other people’s private property. (KRQE)

Shipping firm FedEx is exploring the use of unmanned ground vehicles for deliveries. (MIT Technology Review)

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is looking at using drones for emergency operations. (Charlotte Business Journal)

The Town of Flagler Beach in Florida is considering an ordinance that would restrict drone use in the city. (Flagler Live)

Qatari authorities published a public notice warning drone operators not to use unmanned aircraft without permission. (Doha News)

A group of researchers used a drone to find as many as 450 geoglyphs—large man-made stone formations—in the Amazon. (

A drone was used to measure water levels in the San Francisquito Creek in California. (NBC Bay Area)

The Madison County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois has received approval to purchase a drone for emergency operations. (The Telegraph)

The U.S Army recovered a surveillance drone that it had lost during a training mission out of Fort Huachuca. (Fox News)

The U.K. Maritime Coastguard Agency is studying the feasibility of introducing drones for search and rescue missions. (Aviation Week)

Industry Intel

The Royal Australian Navy awarded Schiebel Group a contract for a Camcopter S-100 unmanned helicopter and three years of logistics support. (AIN Online)

The Department of Transportation awarded Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory a $1.51 million contract to provide technical support for a unmanned aerial system collision avoidance system. (USASpending)

Allianz will sponsor the 2017 Drone Racing League championships, which are to be held in June 2017. (Press Release)

Energy firm AES has partnered with Measure, a drone services company, to explore the use of drones to improve safety on work sites. (TechCrunch)

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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