The Week In Drones: Dragon Boats, Graffiti Art, And More

Keeping up with the droneses

A Dragon Boat

Here’s a roundup of the week’s top drone news: highlights from the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.

New Drone Joins Old Battlefield

The war in Afghanistan may be winding down for American forces, but they’re getting a new unmanned ally. The United States Marine Corps just deployed five new RQ-21 Blackjack drones to Afghanistan. The Blackjack is an evolution and an improvement over the earlier ScanEagle, with a longer wingspan and the ability to carry bigger, better, heavier cameras or communications relays. This early deployment to an actual war will let the Marines test the new drone in a practical environment, so that future versions will better meet military needs.

Catching A Blackjack Drone Aboard A Navy Ship

130210-N-NB538-168 GULF OF MEXICO (Feb. 10, 2013) The RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) is recovered with the flight recovery apparatus cable aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sabrina Fine/Released)

Guarding Ports

In Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, two drones are going to be flying security cameras over four ports. From Arabian Business:

While this fails to reveal the specific type of drone, drones can offer a lot for security and law enforcement. In this case, flying between ships is an easier and faster patrol than going on foot.

Spray painting Canvas

Call it Dronesy. By attaching a spray can to a drone, graffiti artist Katus has found a way to create art while remaining out of sight. The problem: the control system still isn’t great, and the drone’s rotors create a wind that blows down on the aerosol spray. For now, the concept is art enough. In the future, better controls and better drones could let anyone mark up their neighborhood from the comfort of their own home.

Watch a video of the spray-painting drone below:

Watching Dragons

Well, dragon boats, at least. Freelance author Robert Rath is based in Hong Kong and took this picture of what appears to be a DJI Phantom drone doing some filming at Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Carnival.

Licenses For Films

In response to a petition from filmmakers, the FAA announced it is open to considering allowing some commercial uses of drones before the rules for unmanned aircraft are finalized in 2020. Presently, drones are governed by a hodge-podge of local regulations and old rules regarding model airplanes, which allow wide discretion for hobbyist use and narrow limitations for business that want to use drones. True to form, the FAA is placing safety at the heart of their considerations. The release reads, in part:

Did I miss any drone news? Email me at kelsey.d.atherton@gmail.com.

Kelsey D. Atherton
Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Atherton is a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.