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Daily Drone News – Friday October 9, 2020

Here are today’s most important drone news articles. We publish this post every weekday at 5:30 p.m. Some of these stories are from DroneXL.co and some of them will be from other sources. If you’d like to receive this in an email going forward, be sure to subscribe using the form below.

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DJI Mavic Mini 2 specs and release date that we anticipate

Mavic Mini 2 specs and release date that we anticipate – We know DJI has some more products up its sleeve to surprise us with before this year will be over. One of which, we believe, will be a small and very lightweight drone. Not the DJI FPV as it seems to be delayed. Here are the DJI Mavic Mini 2 specs and the release date we anticipate, based on the latest rumors and whispers.

On Thursday, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced the issuance of new guidance that bans the use of agency grants to purchase drones and other unmanned aerial systems from foreign groups deemed threats. Certain foreign-made drones cannot be bought with DOJ grant funds No funds awarded or made available by OJP, through a contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or otherwise, to a state, local, tribal, or territorial government (including via subcontract or subaward, at any tier) may be used to purchase, use, or operate any unmanned aircraft system that is manufactured or assembled by a covered foreign entity. And the DOJ defines a covered foreign entity as follows: “Covered foreign entity" means any entity that is determined or designated, within the Department of Justice, to be subject to or vulnerable to extrajudicial direction from a foreign government. While issued on Monday, the guidance was only made public on Thursday. The new DOJ policy aims to increase the security of drones by requiring that OJP loan applicants can mitigate any ‘cybersecurity and privacy risks posed by these systems and that the applicant has a plan to address any civil liberties-related complaints that could arise’, according to The Hill. The new DOJ policy does not single out any specific country, but it is not hard to imagine that the guidance applies to Chinese-made drones. The policy refers to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that are “manufactured or assembled by a covered foreign entity.” It does not specifically mention drones that are made in the United States, but that still contain Chinese-made parts as do all the so-called ‘Blue sUAS’ do. The House-passed 2021 National Defense Authorization Act contains a provision that would ban the federal government from purchasing certain foreign-made drones, including UAS from China, because of national security concerns. Over the last few years, the world’s largest and also Chinese drone maker, DJI has come under increased scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and federal government agencies. DJI has always maintained that they do not share any information with the Chinese government, and that drone users can decide if they want to share any information from their UAS with DJI. The company went as far as to create a Local Data Mode on some of its drones to prevent any information from being shared online. DJI developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior a special ‘Government Edition’ for select DJI drones that provides even more data security. “We take seriously concerns about the use of foreign-made UAS and the potential for related data compromise,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement Thursday, according to The Hill. “It is paramount that funding recipients take effective measures to safeguard sensitive information and the public’s privacy and civil liberties while operating these systems in a safe and secure manner.” The new policy from the Justice Department was released the same week Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt issued separate guidance allowing the department to buy ‘American-made, but still containing Chinese-made parts’ drones, or so-called Blue sUAS, as defined by an initiative of the Department of Defense. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of the Interior temporarily grounded its entire fleet of 810 3DR Solo and DJI drones from use in non-emergency operations because of cybersecurity concerns. “While drones are important to critical Interior missions, the Department needed to ensure the technology used for these operations is such that it would not compromise our national security interests,” Interior Department press secretary Ben Goldey wrote in an email to reporters this week. The data security concerns related to Chinese-made drones are part of a larger effort by the current administration against China and Chinese companies. Previously, Huawei and TikTok have come under intense scrutiny. DJI has pushed back against the allegations and also responded to the new guidance from the Department of the Interior and pointed out that the Blue sUAS are three to five times more expensive than comparable DJI UAS. “The new DOI guidance finally acknowledges that the grounding of its drone fleet was never about national security, but rather thinly-veiled economic protectionism. Five manufacturers were just handed an unfair advantage in the marketplace, as they can build their drones with Chinese parts while other companies cannot. The Blue Drone companies also charge three to five times more than a comparable DJI platform, meaning U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for expensive military-grade drone technology from defense contractors for non-military activity such as prescribed burns, wildlife conservation and geological surveying.” In September, the Alliance for Drone Innovation, which also represents DJI sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees pointing out that banning federal use of drones from certain companies could be “detrimental to the U.S. drone industry.” “Manufacturing a drone simply cannot be done today without parts and knowledge from all over the world, and a country-based ban would hurt the Americans who build drones as well as the Americans who use them for recreation, business, conservation, and even saving lives,” the alliance wrote. - Only approved drones, so-called Blue sUAS are exempt from the PMB approval and reporting procedures, opening the door for the Department of the Interior to rebuild its drone fleet and start using it again for non-emergency missions.

Certain foreign-made drones cannot be bought with DOJ grant funds – On Thursday, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced the issuance of new guidance that bans the use of agency grants to purchase foreign-made drones and other unmanned aerial systems from foreign groups deemed threats. Updated with response from DJI.

Former drone show operator indicted for fraud and identity theft

Former drone show operator indicted for fraud and identity theft – On September 2, 2020, former drone show operator David J. Oneal was indicted by a grand jury in the Western District of Texas for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Teen helps older drone pilot who fell down Mississippi River bluff

Teen helps older drone pilot who fell down Mississippi River bluff – An older drone pilot who was looking for his unmanned aircraft somehow fell down a Mississippi River bluff in Minneapolis, MN. Luckily a teenager heard his shouts for help and came to the man’s rescue.

The Bakken is a natural test ground for drones in North Dakota

The Bakken is a natural test ground for drones in North Dakota – The Bakken is a natural test ground for drones in North Dakota, says Matt Dunlevy, president and CEO of SkySkopes in a guest column for the Grand Forks Herald.

Drone group photo of EMS workers outside Robeson County Emergency Operations Center

Drone group photo of EMS workers outside Robeson County Emergency Operations Center – A drone group photo is not yet a regular occurrence, but it something that we see happening more often since unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have become less expensive and easier to fly. Here’s a drone group photo of emergency medical services (EMS) workers outside the Robeson County Emergency Operations Center in Lumberton, NC.

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