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Archive for the tag “drones”

More news on drone use in the private sector.

The Wedge-tail eagle is aggressive enough to take out drones with seven-foot wingspans. Photo “wedge-tail 32” by Jim Bendon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fun stories on the private sector use of drones:

  • Toy drone regulations in U.S. knocked down
  • Demand for commercial drone pilots is growing
  • How about using a swarm of disposable drones to deliver disaster aid?
  • Wedge-tail eagles taking out big drones

5/19/17 – The Hill – Court strikes down rule forcing toy drone users to register with govt – The FAA rule requiring every operator of every toy drone to register is contrary to a congressional law that prohibits the FAA from regulating toy drones. That is the conclusion of the federal Second Court of Appeals in DC.

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France has armed its MQ-9 Reapers. Background on MQ-9 drone.

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt) (Interpretive text accompanies the official USAF photo.)

Some background on the MQ-9 Reaper, an upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator. Also, France has armed the Reapers it has deployed in Africa.

9/20/17 – Strategy Page – Counter-Terrorism: Up Close and Constantly – France has 6 U.S. made MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory. Five of them are Niger, used for counterterrorism operations in surrounding countries. The remaining one is in France, used for training. Six more are on order.

To improve capabilities, France started loading the MQ-9s with Hellfire missiles. Their Tiger helicopter gunships already use that missile, so they were in stock and the French munitions maintainers already knew how to load and handle them.

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Update on military drones and anti-drone technology

An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

Here are a couple of articles on drones in the US inventory and anti-drone technology.

9/16/16 (yeah, about a year old) – Strategy Page – Warplanes: Reapers Replace Predators – Good background on MQ-9 Reaper.

USAF bought another 30 Reapers in 2016 at a price tag of $13M each. This will bring the total inventory up to 200 by 2019. Article says there were almost 150 Reapers currently in service back in mid-2016.

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Update on military drones

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission June 9, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Ridgeway)

A few recent articles on military drones: New US variations in use, shootdown of military drones in combat zones, anti-drone technology, and increasing exports of Chinese drones.

My observation: the military drone arms race is on.

7/2/17 – UPI – New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission – The first in a new series of MQ-9 Reaper drones flew its first combat mission. Referred to as the Block 5, the drone dropped a precision bomb (GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions) and fired two missiles (AM-114 Hellfire).

Oddly, the article says targets were ISIS positions but does not identify the country where the strike took place.

USAF Staff Sgt. aircraft armament systems specialist inspects an MQ-9 Reaper at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Aug. 18, 2014. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained here.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

6/8/17 – Wall Street Journal – American Pilot Shoots Down Armed Drone in Syria – A drone, described as Predator-style, was shot down by a U.S. pilot after the drone fired on a patrol by forces the US supports.

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More amazing news from the open frontier of technology

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more of the amazing things going on in the open frontier of technology:

  • USAF experimenting with anti-drone shotgun rounds that would snag a drone
  • One state considers allowing police to put lethal weapons on drones
  • Amazon building 7th and 8th fulfillment center in Southern California
  • Amazon starts collecting sales tax in last four states it doesn’t already do so
  • 2 terrabyte flash drive
  • computers as smart as humans by 2029 instead of 2045?

3/13 – The Drive – U.S. Air Force Buying Special Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells – USAF has 600 special 12-gauge rounds on order for testing. If the test goes well, they will buy 6,400 more.

The rounds are used for snagging a drone.

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More on the frontier of military technology

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Several intriguing articles on military forces using technology:

  • ISIS using larger drones with larger payloads
  • Marine Corps wants to experiment with giving an entire battalion suppressors for all their weapons
  • Pakistan developing second strike capability by putting nuke loaded cruise missiles on diesel subs
  • Lots of jobs in the US military will be replaced by robots

2/21 – Washington Post – Use of weaponized drones by ISIS spurs terrorism fears – In Iraq, Islamic State is working with drones above the quadcopter size. With wingspans of about 6 feet, the drone can carry a mortar round at about three pounds instead of a hand grenade.

IS has posted videos of multiple uses of the drones to drop explosives. The frequency of offensive use of the drones is high enough that Iraqi troops must scan the scan sky for drones and take cover when one is spotted.

Captured documents indicate IS is doing research to develop new drones and modify off-the-shelf versions.

This is a significant step up from my previous discussion of ISIS’ drone usage. On January 30, I mentioned:

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More uses for small drones, some good ideas, some unsettling

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Drone technology marches forward, regardless of whether you or I think it is a good idea. A few recent article:

  • Incorporating drones into a home security system.
  • LA Sheriff starts to use drones
  • US Navy experimenting with swarms of drone ships
  • ISIS using off-the-shelf quadcopters to drop small bombs.

1/3 – Engadget.com – Your next home security system could deploy patrol drones A company has developed a security system with a learning algorithm which ‘learns’ the normal routine at your home. When something happens outside the range of normal, the system can deploy drones to put several cameras on the situation.

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The wide open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Several recent articles reveal research into weaponizing drones:

  • Russian nuke-armed drone sub
  • DARPA trying to develop swarm capability
  • successful test of a swarm
  • converting full size plane into drone with drop-in package

12/8 – Bill Gertz at Washington Free Beacon – Russia Tests Nuclear-Capable Drone Sub – Published reports in Russia indicates their military is developing a drone sub that can travel 6,200 miles, dive to 3,280 feet, and zip along at 56 knots.

Most troublesome is it will equipped to carry a  nuclear weapon, possibly up to the massively huge size of 100 megatons.

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U.S. increasing drone and aircraft resources in Western Africa

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

The US is increasing its troops and surveillance resources in Africa.

10/10 – Strategy Page Intelligence: Long Eyes in Central Africa – (Yeah, I’ve been holding this post for a while.) The U.S. is building its second airbase in Africa, this time in Agadez, Niger. Aerial surveillance aircraft will fly out of the base along with unmanned UAVs, including armed UAVs, according to the article.

This base will serve growing intel needs in Libya, Chad, and Nigeria, according to the article. It is also next door to Mali so it can support intel needs there.

You can see Agadez in the following map:

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Cool stuff on the open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Three fun articles on drone technology:

  • UND starting classes on setting up a drone business
  • a drone for every Marine squad?
  • drones armed with stun guns
  • autonomous armed drones.

As a bonus, a cool video on how train wheels are made.

Check these out as a refreshing break from the otherwise oh so depressing headlines.

10/19 – Reason – University of North Dakota Offers Class on Starting Your Own Drone Business – Course will have three parts. First, getting pilot certificate and studying FAA regs. Second, studying state of the industry today. Third, develop a business plan for a drone business.

9/30 – Popular Science – Marine Corps Commandant Wants a Drone in Every Squad

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Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology: commercial drones, merchant ships without crews, and tiny satellites.


Imagine one of those providing enough bandwidth to allow merchant ships to operate without a crew. Imagine scaling that down to show-box size to allow a company to sell daily images of every spot on the earth. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Imagine one of those providing enough bandwidth to allow merchant ships to sail the world without any crew. Imagine scaling that down to show-box size to allow a company to sell daily images of every spot on the earth. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Technology is advancing at mind-boggling speed:

  • New rules for small drones allow commercial use of drones
  • Drones as bold security guards
  • Cubesats that can count all the cars in all the parking lots of a retailer
  • Research underway for merchant ships that can travel the world without any crew members on board

8/30 – Wall Street Journal – Business-Drone Rules to Take Effect – New rules governing business use of drones up to 55 pounds go into effect this day. Previously, rules required all drone operators to merely register with the feds. New rules allow business use of drones, by licensed pilots, within line-of-site, during the day, with drones under 55 pounds.

Expect more rules to address flight beyond line-of-site, and how to operate when people are underneath the drone.

8/22 – TechCrunch – Drone startup Aptonomy introduces the self-flying security guard – Company has a drone loaded with cameras, lights, loudspeakers, including night-vision cameras. I am sure there will be microphones to pick up sounds and conversations.

It can be dispatched as a remote-controlled security guard.

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Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology: drones

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

A few articles I’ve noticed recently on the open frontier of drone technology.

7/7 – Behind the Black – Boston Dynamics – Atlas, The Next Generation – The skill of robots.

Astounding. Amongst many items to notice in the video is the lack of an external power supply

6/08 – The Guardian – World’s first passenger drones cleared for testing in Nevada

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Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology, drone edition

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Amazing things happening in the use of drones. Maybe only major powers have the capacity to conduct extensive drone operations. Think about bee-sized drones and drone swarms.

First, a small tangent. 4/13 – Wall Street Journal – What Children Learned From the Shared Family Phone – What I learned from the article is that almost half of households in the US do not have a landline.

That is up from around 27% back five years.  For the 25-34 age group, only around one-third have a landline.

4/22 – Press Enterprise – Inland agencies deputize drones for crime, rescues Four specific city police agencies in the Inland Empire (the area in San Bernardino county that is east of LA) are planning to start using drones in operations.

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Open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Developments in the drone world are amazing. A few articles recently that caught my eye.

2/9 – Behind the Black – Oregon as seen by a drone – Watch the eye-popping video produced by a drone. No helicopter could produce those views. This is a foretaste of what drones will do:

2/1 – Popular Mechanics – Dutch Police Are Teaching Eagles How to Capture Renegade Drones

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More news on military drone operations

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Reaper drone. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

A few articles on military drone operations.

12/27 – Wall Street Journal – Air Force Looks Beyond Officers to Boost Drone-Pilot Ranks – USAF is moving towards having enlisted troops fly drones. To this point rated pilots had to be at the controls. The increased demands for joint operations combined with staffing limits along with the dreariness of the work has created a shortage of qualified pilots. To fill a gap, USAF may use enlisted pilots.

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