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.
Drone news from DroneXL.co
HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION TO STUDY DRONE INCURSIONS ON FIGHTING WILDFIRES – Last week the U.S. House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation to set up a federal and state study to examine the risks and effects of drone incursions on fighting wildfires.
DJI MAVIC 2 ENTERPRISE ADVANCED VERSUS AUTEL EVO II DUAL 640T – Now that the launch is official, let’s compare the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and the Autel EVO II Dual 640T to see which one of these two very capable drones comes out on top when comparing the specifications.
NEW DJI MAVIC 2 ENTERPRISE ADVANCED LAUNCHES TODAY! – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the political pressure on Chinese-made drones, DJI has been cranking out a lot of products this year. Today, we are very excited to see DJI launch the new DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced drone, which might just be the best thermal quadcopter for first responders and search and rescue organizations. Check out these specs!
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Other drone news
Iris Automation raises $13 million for visual drone object avoidance tech – It’s only a matter of time now before drones become a key component of everyday logistics infrastructure, but there are still significant barriers between where we are today and that future — particularly when it comes to regulation. Iris Automation is developing computer vision products that can help simplify the regulatory challenges involved in setting standards for pilotless flight, thanks to its detect-and-avoid technology that can run using a wide range of camera hardware. The company has raised a $13 million Series B funding round to improve and extend its tech, and to help provide demonstrations of its efficacy in partnership with regulators.
Quadcopter Drone Team Flew Weapons, Drugs From Pak, Arrested In Punjab – Two men have been arrested for allegedly being members of a module that used drones to smuggle narcotics and weapons into India through Pakistan-based smugglers with links to pro-Khalistan operatives, the Punjab police said in a statement on Tuesday. A quadcopter drone with mini receiver and camera support, a .32 bore revolver, an SUV, cartridges and drugs have been recovered from the accused, the police added.
Eurobites: BT to lead safe-airspace drones project – BT is hoping that, in the future, drones will be less the toy of choice for privacy-invading idiots in parks and on beaches and more about useful, commercial applications. The operator is leading a consortium project that seeks to establish the UK’s first commercial drone corridor in open and unrestricted airspace to prove that drones and manned, old-school aviation can safely co-exist. Backed by money from the government, “Project XCelerate” will conduct flight trials along the 8km-long corridor near the southern English town of Reading in the summer of 2021, using connectivity from EE, its mobile subsidiary, and drawing on the drone expertise of a number of consortium partners. (See Eurobites: Vodafone, Ericsson trial safe-skies tech for drones and Eurobites: Proximus gets in on the drones act.)
Drone Delivery Canada Announces Letter of Intent With IDP Group Inc. – Drone Delivery Canada Corp. (TSXV: FLT) (OTC: TAKOF) (Frankfurt: A2AMGZ) (Frankfurt: ABB.F) (the “Company” or “DDC”) is pleased to announce that, with the assistance of its sales agent Air Canada (TSX: AC), it has executed a non-binding Letter of Intent (“LOI”), effective December 14th, 2020, with IDP Group Inc. (“IDP”). Under the terms of the LOI, the parties are cooperating to work towards a binding 10-year term definitive agreement (the “Agreement”). The Agreement will set out the terms and conditions respecting the Company’s drone delivery solution using DDC’s Sparrow, Robin XL and Condor drones, DroneSpotTM depots, and the Company’s patented and proprietary FLYTE system, in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. DDC will provide implementation & commissioning of the systems, training, technical support, ongoing managed services and remote monitoring from its Operations Control Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.
Stealth F-22 and F-35s Are Practicing Controlling Drones While in Flight – The U.S. Air Force’s “loyal wingman” plan for piloted fighter jets to control nearby drones took a large step forward recently. On December 9, a rocket-launched Valkyrie drone took off with an F-22 and F-35 together, a maneuver laying the groundwork for the fast-approaching day when fifth-generation stealth aircraft can control groups of nearby drones from the cockpit. Direct cockpit control not only massively reduces latency by removing the need to move data through a ground station, but also greatly expands options when it comes to air attack. Drones maneuvering with manned stealth fighter jets can extend attack range, test enemy air defenses, perform drone-to-drone information sharing or, if necessary, seek to challenge or overwhelm enemy radar without placing human pilots at risk.
Stunning maps visualize drone laws around the world – The global drone industry is projected to double over the next five years, from $22.5 billion in 2020 to $42.8 billion in 2025. Why? Because drones are being rolled out for defense, conservation, disaster relief, agriculture, real estate, entertainment and a whole bunch of other sectors. But the rollouts are not evenly distributed around the world or even around the United States. In fact, as time passes, regulations seem to be varying massively depending on where you are in the world. That’s created a patchwork system that makes universal compliance nearly impossible, which has hampered drone development.
Food delivery, crime-fighting drones coming soon – Drone delivery is the next frontier for the food delivery and law enforcement industries, with practical use cases across the globe expected to gain traction within the next 12 to 18 months, enabled by 5G deployments. This was the word from Todd Ashton, VP and head of Ericsson South and East Africa, speaking yesterday at the Ericsson Mobility Webinar. Providing a global landscape of 5G and Ericsson’s Mobility Report, Ashton highlighted the fundamental need for good connectivity as a cornerstone to cater for the increased connectivity uptake across the globe, as the demand for capacity and coverage of cellular networks continues to grow.
User-configurable xFold drone can lift up to 1,000 pounds – Although quadcopter drones may offer relatively good battery life, their hexa- and octocopter counterparts can lift heavier loads. The xFold drone can go either way, however, with extra propeller arms that can be attached or detached as needed. Manufactured by San Francisco-based startup ZM Interactive, the xFold is available in four carbon fiber-bodied models. Each one of these can, in turn, be flown in its base quadcopter form, or with six, eight, or even 12 motor/propeller units – in the latter two configurations there are two such units located on the end of each arm, so the drone doesn’t have eight or 12 separate arms. Additionally, the arms can be folded back (but left attached to the aircraft) for transport or storage.
R-MA’s unmanned systems lab program soaring in the field – Randolph-Macon Academy’s unmanned systems lab has been priding itself on learning in the field since it was launched in November 2019. Part of making that aspect of the program successful, though, is partnering with community groups and businesses to get the work done. R-MA’s program, which focuses on the technology of drones while also preparing its students to become a certified drone pilot, received a big boost in the partnership department last week when Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Silent Falcon UAS Technologies would be investing $6 million into a new East Coast headquarters at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport.
Travis Air Force Base and Easy Aerial partner for autonomous drone-based security operations – The 60th Air Mobility Wing, 60th Security Forces Squadron, in conjunction with Easy Aerial, a commercial provider of autonomous drone-based monitoring solutions, has developed and deployed the first automated drone-based monitoring and perimeter security system for a United States Air Force (USAF) installation. The Smart Air Force Monitoring System (SAFMS) free-flight drone-in-a-box solution, along with a tethered (SAFMS-T) version, was developed by Easy Aerial and the USAF in a span of just two years. The work was done under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II program and conforms to the Air Force Base Perimeter Security and Situational Awareness operational requirements.
Belgian police banned from using drones to find lockdown parties – Belgian police will not be allowed to use drones to look for violations of the coronavirus measures, the college of public prosecutors announced during a press conference on Tuesday. The use of drones is “disproportionate” in this case, they said, adding that any evidence obtained via drone images will therefore not be valid. However, drones can still be used to assess a general situation, such as the crowds in a busy shopping street or along the seafront, according to the prosecutors.
Prisons and border control plagued by rising threat of drug mule drones – Security and police are confronting increased numbers of smuggling attempts from ‘drug mule drones’ since the coronavirus pandemic began. Incidents of drone involvement in drug drops have risen in the news this year. It is suspected that criminals are taking advantage of locked-down security systems, and seeking innovative methods to evade travel restrictions. In Australia, Corrections Victoria are trying to combat a rise in the aerial smuggling of contraband and narcotics, since face-to-face visits were banned in March. Drone reports at the jailhouse are up 246% since last year. Security authorities are facing the same challenge around the world, as border controls are also fielding a higher number of drone invasions. Back in May, Border Patrol agents in the US confirmed a growing trend in drugs being flown from Mexico via drones, after they thwarted two consecutive smuggling attempts.
Thai-built drones for agriculture offered for sale to farmers – A Thai firm planned to provide drones for farmers in Thailand, said an executive official on Monday (Dec 14). The company will manufacture and sell its unmanned aerial vehicles to farmers throughout the country from early next year, ATI Technologies Co President Thana Slanvetpan said. The Thai-built drone can take pictures, collect data pertaining to the cultivating of plants and spray liquid fertilizers or pesticides onto them, Thana said. The drone selling for 198,000 baht (about US$6,582) can considerably ease the hard work of the farmers and help with their farming plans, he said.
Drones ID areas where manure spreading should be limited – Geologists have been testing drones in northeastern Wisconsin as a way to pinpoint shallow soils in areas sensitive to groundwater contamination. The method of measuring soil depths may be beneficial for state regulators, county conservationists and farmers who are working to implement new restrictions on manure spreading in the region. Studies in northeastern Wisconsin have shown private wells are susceptible to groundwater contamination from nitrates and other bacteria due to thin soil in areas with fractured bedrock.
Agency banks on drones to reduce deforestation – The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will now use drones as a new weapon to monitor deforestation in gazetted forests as thousands of hectares disappear every year in some of the country’s most biodiverse forests, the agency has said. KFS chief conservator Julius Kamau said the agency has conducted a successful pilot study in Karura and Ndunduri forests paving the way for the use of drones to help in identifying changes in specific points of forest cover. “We believe that technology is one of the tools that we can use to complement the human capability that we have as KFS. We have an Airwing so we have an air capability including a chopper and a caravan. But we believe use of drones is the way to go,” he said.
The rise of drones in UAE construction – What can UAE construction firms gain by adopting digital technologies in day-to-day operations?
The short answer is improved efficiency in every aspect of a construction project. Efficiency in time and money. Today, digitising has become cheap enough to be integrated in daily activities. Most project owners today are blind to mistakes happening every day on sites; this can be anything from inaccurate placement, cracks, holes and many more; there is no way for them to avoid these mistakes without extremely costly supervision and quality control.
WC HEALTH DEPT ADDS DRONES TO ITS RESCUE ARMOURY – The Western Cape Health Department is showing off a new weapon to be used in rescue operations. It officially has licence to operate drones and the first devices in the project were quite literally launched on Table Mountain on Tuesday afternoon. The department is the first government institution in the country that is allowed to fly over national key points. As of today, if an incident occurs in the mountain range around Cape Town, teams will be called out, and the drone will be sent up in minutes.
Tencent invests in DJI-backed agritech startup FJ Dynamics – Back in 2018, Tencent pledged to put more focus on enterprises as traditional industries in China increasingly tapped technology to boost productivity. The firm’s industrial projects range from using AI to screen medical images to building customer management tools for retailers on its WeChat messenger. Most recently, Tencent invested in FJ Dynamics, a Chinese startup selling agricultural automation solutions such as smart tractors and rice transplanters as well as unmanned vehicles for ports and factories to clients around the world. The funding from Tencent and other undisclosed investors amounted to “hundreds of millions of yuan” ($1= 6.55 yuan), Tencent said in an announcement on Tuesday.
Edinburgh drone specialist sees headcount double to over 100 – Cyberhawk has also increased its yearly revenue by 51 percent in 2020 after growing its footprint in key international markets. The firm now has more than 100 staff members based in the UK, India, Qatar, and three offices in the United States. Its growth has been driven by a surge in demand for its drone-based inspections and asset visualization software, iHawk. The company has secured several contracts with major players across the oil and gas, power grid and construction sectors in 2019 and 2020.
Stafford Sheriff’s Office drone locates missing person – Sunday night at 8:30, the Stafford Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing endangered person. Deputies quickly began searching for the subject. Deputy N.R. Stachurski located the subject’s vehicle parked at the Abel Lake boat ramp. Deputies began searching the immediate area and determined she had taken a trail into the woods. The drone team was mobilized and a bloodhound was requested from another agency.
Pentagon testing microwave ‘ray gun’ – A microwave “ray gun” that can melt enemy radars and sensors is being studied by the US military to see if it can be deployed on fighter jets, classified Pentagon plans have shown. Microwave weapons are an active area of military research and a new high-power system has been developed by Raytheon, the US defence company, for destroying drones and drone swarms. The microwave operators “focus a wide, arcing energy beam on drones that sends out a short, high-power burst of electromagnetic energy, destroying their electronics and dropping them simultaneously from the sky”, Misty Holmes, director of Raytheon, said.
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