Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.
According to state-owned media, China is using small drones to battle its disastrous smog problem. These drones assist in two ways. In emergencies, a parachuting drone can spray a catalyst to dissipate thick clouds of smog, as in the image above. Drones can also film the smoke coming out of factory smokestacks; the color of the smoke can reveal illegal pollution.
The Skylark is an Israeli drone that is launched by hand and remotely controlled to send video down to troops below. The 17-pound drone can fly for up to three hours and is similar to the RQ-11 Raven, which American forces used in Iraq and Afghanistan for scouting. The AP recently interviewed Israeli soldiers and got a look at the Skylark in action. Watch the AP video below:
This drone system, made by researchers at the University of Bristol and tested at a uranium mine in Romania, provides a way for scientists and public health officials to monitor radioactive sites after they have fallen out of use, without sending humans into toxic areas. Here's a video explaining the system.
Corridor Digital's short film "Superman With A GoPro," shot using a commercial drone, shows the last son of Krypton on a mission to return a GoPro camera. On the way, he flies over several Los Angeles landmarks (including the Griffith Observatory!), rescues a woman from a burning building, and assists a police officer with two muggers.
This week, the United States boycotted a United Nations Human Rights Council discussion of drones. Said a State Department official: "But this particular resolution deals solely with the use of remotely piloted aircraft. We just don't see the Human Rights Council as the right forum for discussion narrowly focused on a single weapons delivery system." Perhaps next time the HRC can instead have a debate about the targeted killing policy writ large, and not just one weapon used for part of it.