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Israeli defense firm demos kamikaze drone bomb that can be called off

The Rotem "suicide drone" in action. In early July, Israel Aerospace Industries demonstrated the Rotem UAS—a proof-of-concept quadcopter drone capable of providing both airborne surveillance and an explosive punch. The lightweight drone, which can be carried in a backpack and flown by one person, comes with a "combat head" that turns it into a guided weapon. Rotem folds down into a package 38 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 5 inches high. According to a report from Israel Defense , the drone has a number of "automated modes." It has automatic take off and landing control, an emergency "return home" feature, and can navigate to a given set of coordinates or follow a pre-specified route without operator interaction. It can also be put into automated observation and attack modes once a target is designated, and the drone can "safe ditch" and disable its warhead if an attack is aborted. A number of fixed-wing "loitering munitions" have been produced in the past, such as Aeronautics Defense Systems' Orbiter 1K —a suicide drone that drew unwanted attention when Aeronautics' live-fire sales demonstration to Azerbaijan turned into an attack on an Armenian military position. In the US, Textron developed Battlehawk —essentially a fixed-wing loitering hand grenade—in 2013. And the US Army started purchasing the tube-launched fixed-wing Switchblade from AeroVironment back in 2011. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ohio test uses drones to monitor highway traffic

Highway traffic monitoring is frequently... less than efficient. Fixed cameras can't catch problems beyond their immediate location, while aircraft are both costly and inevitably have to fly back to a distant base to refuel. These systems may soon...

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Flock raises £2.25M for its on-demand drone insurance

Flock , a London-based startup that has created a data-driven insurance product for drones, has picked up £2.25 million in seed funding. Leading the round is fintech and insurtech VC fund Anthemis, with participation from Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play, Seed and Speed, and previous backer Downing Ventures. A number of unnamed angel investors also took part. Describing itself as “pioneering the use of real-time data in insurance,” Flock’s drone insurance has its roots in the academic studies of founder Antton Pena. He wrote his thesis on the use of real-time data to quantify drone flight risks, and began building the first version of the Flock platform at the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London with help from a post-doctoral researcher in artificial intelligence. Likewise, while studying at Cambridge University, Flock CEO Ed Leon Klinger focused on the future of the autonomous world, writing and publishing papers on driverless vehicles, AI safety, and autonomous drones. This included a paper on the future of the drone industry in which he identified the same solution that Antton had already begun building: the idea that real-time data could be leveraged to identify and quantify the risks of drone flights. To that end, Flock’s first product, dubbed “Flock Cover”, is a ‘pay-as-you-fly’ insurance app that allows drone pilots to insure flights for a minimum of one hour. It aggregates real-time data, including hyperlocal weather conditions, population density, proximity to high-risk areas (such as airports), and more. Flock’s algorithms then analyse this data, coupled with other data points, such as the weight of the drone, to quantify the risk of any given drone flight.

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