Pentagon Confronts a New Threat From ISIS: Exploding Drones (Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, 10/ 11/16)
Two Kurdish fighters were killed by an Islamic State drone which marks the first successful use of drones by the Islamic State against enemy forces. After shooting down the drone the Kurdish forces were taking it apart when it exploded killing two Kurdish fighters. The commercially available small drone had an explosive device attached to it disguised as a battery. The Islamic State has unsuccessfully tried to carry out similar attacks at least two other times. This has led to criticism of the pentagon for being unprepared for dealing with the use of these drones by terrorist groups.
– Vincent Young
Agriculture, public safety may gain most from UAVs (Kathy Carlson, 10/14/16)
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International found agriculture and public safety have much to gain from drone use. Drones can be used in agriculture for data acquisition which can reveal bare spots and weed growth, and can measure heat, moisture and the health of crops. Very few farms use this technology currently and instead rely on airplanes and satellites. Drones could also be very well suited for emergency response situations giving real time surveillance capabilities, however very few police departments have adopted the use of drones due to concerns over possible public reaction. Also, some states have passed laws restricting the use of drones for gathering evidence.
– Vincent Young
Drones are playing a new role in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew (April Glaser, 10/16/16)
Drones were used by many companies in the recovery effort after hurricane Matthew. Verizon used a drone to check cellular site locations for connectivity and damage in flooded areas. When damage was found Verizon sent a boat with technicians, who restored service within hours. Allstate also flew a drone last week to assess property damage. Travelers Insurance has trained drone pilots surveying the damage. Other hobbyist drones were used in various ways during the recovery effort.
– Vincent Young
Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer brings injurious drone to press conference (Mike Vorkunov, October 16, 2016)
Trevor Bauer, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has injured himself following a mishap with one of his quadcopters. While powering on the device, one of the motors spun up unexpectedly and sliced part of his pinky. While the cut was severe enough to warrant stitches, his pitching grip has not been affected. Trevor says that although such an accident is never fun, he is not discouraged from building or flying drones in the future.
Drone sightings near Heathrow prompt police inquiry (Alice Ross, October 10, 2016)
Yet another drone has been spotted near an approach path to Heathrow Airport. Authorities received two notifications of drones flying in restricted space on the 10th of October, but are currently unaware if they are related. As of August 2016, there have been a total of 50 reported drone sightings in restricted airspace. The Metropolitan police are urging drone pilots to fly safely, and re-familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations regarding the hobby.
Prisons try to stop drones from delivering drugs, porn and cellphones to inmates (Michael Rosenwald, October 13, 2016)
Smugglers are now using drones to provide inmates with a variety of contraband. In response, Stephen Moyer, Maryland’s secretary of public safety, has asked the governor for a $1.5 million grant for detection products. Whether this means more eyes in the sky, or some convoluted version of drone radar, remains to be seen. However, funds have been allocated for the 2017 fiscal year. With a rise in drone smuggling operations, Moyer hopes that this initiative will keep correction facilities personnel safe, particularly from the possibilities of smuggled firearms.
Uber’s Ad-Toting Drones Are Heckling Drivers Stuck in Traffic (Michael Reilly, October 14, 2016)
The ride sharing company, Uber, is attempting to expand its market in Latin America; to do this Uber has enlisted a fleet of ad-toting drones which fly above gridlocked traffic in Mexico City. The signs, carried by the quadcopters, reference the smog which often hangs over the city and ask drivers “driving by yourself?” Although the drone-held signs seem environmentally conscious, Uber has been working to increase its market in the city.
DroneDeploy launches a directory for professional drone operators (Lora Kolodny, October 11, 2016)
DroneDeploy, a company which makes cloud based software for drone operators, has launched a directory which it says will help businesses find and connect with drone service providers in their area. The directory is focused on drones which provide area mapping services. Of course, helping professional drone operators tap into unmet demand in the market likely lead to increased use of DroneDeploy’s technology.
Drones will be crashed into passenger jets in mid-air to test safety after string of near misses near airports (Chris Greeenwood, October 16, 2016)
Mid-air collision tests will be conducted in the UK to determine the possible effects of passenger jets colliding with unmanned vehicles. The study comes after a series of alleged drone sightings near major airports, including Heathrow Airport. The UK has rules in place which warn drone users not to fly higher than 400ft and to stay away from airports.