Weekend Roundup


A Federal Aviation Administration panel has recommended ways to track and identify flying drones, but hasn’t reached a consensus as to whether hobbyist drones should be included. The Academy of Model Aeronautics says no, but other groups say they should be. (USA Today)

NASA has selected two finalists for its next robotic mission for solar system exploration — Dragonfly, a dual-quadcopter drone lander that would fly to various locations on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return, or CAESAR, which would travel to a comet and collect samples. (Business Insider)

First responders in Alamance County, North Carolina, recently spent a week learning how to fly drones and use them in emergency situations. Although some officers admit to a “learning curve,” they also see the benefit of having an eye in the sky. (WFMY News 2)

India’s Tamil Nadu Agricultural University will soon use an unmanned aircraft to monitor crops across the state. The school’s Department of Remote Sensing and GIS will use the UAS to monitor the crops from sowing to harvest, including keeping tabs on crop health and water requirements. (The Hindu)

The U.S. Army has tapped four vendors for its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) vehicle program — ARA/Polaris, General Dynamics Land Systems, Howe and Howe and HDT. The Army will decide in fiscal 2019 if it wants to make SMET a program of record and down-select to one vendor. (Jane’s 360)

Miami-based Florida International University’s Academy for International Disaster Preparedness has announced two new courses intended to help emergency managers and first responders understand how UAS can be useful in dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. (Unmanned Aerial Online)

Rio Tinto plans to expand its fleet of self-driving trucks in Sydney, Australia’s Pilbara iron ore region, as part of a company-wide move to cut costs. The mining giant has cut deals with Komatsu and Caterpillar to retrofit 48 trucks with Autonomous Haulage System technology. (Reuters)

Below: An artist's conception of a drone mission to Saturn's moon Titan. Image: NASA

An artist's rendition of a proposed drone mission to Saturn's moon Titan. Image: NASA