Prison authorities are fighting off an aerial invasion by drones being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband into Victorian jails while the system has been in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airdrops, containing packages of pharmaceutical-grade narcotics and street drugs such as heroin, have kept the jailhouse drug market alive after a ban on face-to-face visits in March cut off the most common supply route.

Corrections Victoria received 97 security incident reports from prisons about remotely piloted vehicles from March to early November, up 246 per cent compared to the full year before COVID-19 struck.

Prison authorities were caught ill-prepared to counter the high-tech threat and have scrambled to install drone detection equipment at five of the prisons considered most at risk.

Documents obtained by The Age show drones have slipped past prison defences that until recently were hobbled by a reliance on manual observation by patrolling officers and CCTV to protect airspace over the sprawling complexes.

One incident report, released through freedom of information, shows authorities failed to detect a drone incursion despite the delivery apparently being made in daylight.

"Review of CCTV footage shows a package appearing from the sky and drone within the sky. Prisoners can then be seen searching within the area, with one prisoner retrieving the package," a report from July said.

Another smuggling run was detected weeks later, only because of a tip-off.

"Information inside was that a drone had been used to drop heroin and buprenorphine off to prisoner [redacted] about three weeks ago ... It was ascertained that a drug drop had been organised for March 19. CCTV was reviewed [redacted] … Management informed," an investigation found.

The 97 drone-related security incidents include sightings, interceptions and intelligence reports about planned or suspected deliveries sourced from informers and wiretaps of inmate phone calls. Corrections Victoria has declined to comment on details of the incidents or confirm whether any contraband was seized.

The surge in drone-related activity is being attributed to COVID-19 lockdown conditions imposed across the prison system in March, which have cut off normal smuggling routes, with visits banned.

Reported on theage.com.au: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist in the commercial industry; 

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While drones continue to get much smaller, more powerful, and have better payload options, one thing that will stay the same is its ability to quickly reach a vantage point where humans cannot easily get access to. This remote controlled or even autonomous flying platforms can be used to make people's jobs easier and more efficient through better information gathering and surveying. Firefighter Drones are sent to fire locations as scouts, using cameras with thermal imaging technology to help first responders in their rescue efforts.

Drones can be equipped with thermal cameras to see in the low light-dark conditions, detect irregularities on various infrastructure ie. solar panels, inspect insulation on buildings, and even check for hot spots in burning buildings.

For public safety having a drone in the sky during an active large fire, search & rescue operation, or post-fire assessment is the only way to get a full understanding of the current conditions and to ensure the safety of the fire team.

In a chaotic structure fire, having a drone that is easily able to be deployed to reach a viewpoint above the fire allows for valuable information to be gathered about the current fire conditions. With greater visual and data information better decisions can be made, especially when dealing with fires where people's lives and property are at stake. From wildland firefighting to burning buildings thermal drones can see through smoke and dark to detect the hotspots are and where the crew is. It is this type of technological leverage that can really mean the difference between more property damage to greater loss of life.

Reported on dronenodes.com: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist in the commercial industry; 

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Contact Department 13 for more information on effective real-time low altitude airspace situational awareness and protection of your infrastructure and assets.

A drone has been converted into a flying flamethrower in central China in a fiery campaign to eradicate more than 100 wasp nests.

Blue Sky Rescue, a volunteer group that conducts search and rescue and other emergency work, has teamed up with villagers in Zhong county near the city of Chongqing.

They raised 80,000 yuan ($16,225) to buy a drone and equip it with a petrol tank and an arm-length nozzle.

Videos released by Blue Sky show a recent mission by the six-rotor drone.

It hovers above a hive as large as a suitcase before swooping down.

The drone operator flips the ignition switch, and the drone spits bursts of fire onto the hive.

"The burning ashes of the wasp's nest gradually peeled off and fell, and the surrounding residents applauded and praised the rescue team," said an article on a local news app run by state-owned Chongqing TV.

The article quotes a resident thanking Blue Sky for helping the village: "Now we don't have to worry about being stung by a wasp."

Blue Sky said it had destroyed 11 hives.

There are more than 100 to go.

Reported on abc.net.au: Read the original article here.

To find out how Department 13 technology can assist your industry or specific requirements, contact us for an initial confidential discussion. 

As social distancing continues, drones can offer a safe and environmentally friendly solution for delivering medical supplies.

Drone companies developing methods to deliver COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and rural communities are to receive a share of government funding.

Twenty projects in the UK will benefit from the £7m package which is designed to drive innovation during the pandemic.

As human to human contact must still be limited, drones can offer a solution for providing medical supplies at a distance.

One of the beneficiaries, Essex-based Apian Limited, is building a drone to deliver medical supplies like coronavirus blood and swab tests between NHS hospitals and labs in response.

And a trio of fund-winning limited companies situated in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - Droneprep, Consortiq and Windracers - will use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver PPE and testing kits to rural communities in the county.

Meanwhile, Windracers Distributed Avionics, based in Southampton and Bristol, will develop swarming technology which intends to allow multiple drones to fly in close formations to provide humanitarian aid or fight fires.

The challenge aims to reduce the reliance on road travel and increase UK manufacturing opportunities.

Other successful bids include companies investing in hydrogen-fuelled delivery planes and designers creating technology to enable remote inspections of infrastructure and construction sites.

Close to half of those awarded the cash plan to use it to create technology that will help tackle the pandemic, said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "As the UK leads the way in the aviation revolution, these bold proposals showcase the pioneering spirit of the UK's aerospace and aviation industries in solving global issues, and those facing us here in the UK."

He predicted the funding outlay would create "hundreds of new jobs".

Reported 9 November 2020 on news.sky.com: Read the entire article here.

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It’s no longer pie in the sky – drones have entered the mainstream. Recreationally and commercially, the uses of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) have rapidly expanded. But while there have been welcome advances in agriculture, aerial photography, product deliveries, even racing, it’s hard to ignore the less glamorous applications.

Invasive applications of drone technology, particularly in policing and surveillance, are creeping into daily life in unassuming ways, according to Senior Research Fellow in the School of the Arts and MediaDr Michael Richardson...

The ugly

Perhaps the most problematic use of a drone is as a tool for suppression, Dr Richardson says. Just the fear of being watched can be enough to deter people from public participation, he says.

“If you think or feel worried that drones are going to be monitoring or recording a crowd, it might deter you from being involved in public protest, for example,” he says.

“We’ve also seen in the US, airspace regulation as a means of controlling who can fly drones, where and when, for instance, allowing private security to use drones but not allowing activists to use drones, so there is a potential disparity in power.”

Reported 29 September 2020 on Newsroom.unsw.edu.au: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13 could assist in the management of narcissistic drones in the sky:

Contact Department 13 for more information on effective real-time low altitude airspace situational awareness and protection of your infrastructure and assets.

Ames Construction, one of the largest family-owned general contractors in the US, has significantly improved the safety and accuracy of its surveying at a copper mining site in Arizona using technology from senseFly, a leader in fixed-wing drones. By using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Ames Construction can now generate detailed 3D imagery of the pit wall surfaces – a process that would be much more difficult and time-consuming using traditional topographic methods.

For this project, Ames Construction was tasked with accurately mapping the expansive construction site – in particular, monitoring the largest pit wall face for movement and any potential sloughing or deterioration. The challenge for the team was figuring out how to collect detailed 3D imagery of the pit wall surfaces without temporarily shutting down operations to allow surveyors access to the site.

In addition to the large expanse of land that needed to be covered, the team also had to consider the heightened safety risks that come with an active mining site, such as heavy machinery and ongoing construction. Additionally, the nature of the pit highwall, reaching over 2000 ft tall, made it unsafe and impossible to survey on the site’s benches. Similarly, the size and lack of safe access to all parts of the highwall made it nearly impossible to utilise traditional scanning-based surveying technology. Any manual topographic surveys would simply pose too many hazards and result in costly downtime.

Following the purchase of senseFly’s eBee X fixed-wing drone, alongside its eMotion flight planning software, the operations team was able to efficiently navigate the extreme vertical elevation changes and high-risk nature of the site, while still maintaining – and improving – survey accuracy.

During the project, each flight was completed within 2 – 3 hours, with the eBee X delivering an average of 45 minutes per battery. This meant that, despite the extreme vertical elevation change, high winds and loss of radio signal that are commonplace at the site, mapping could be completed in a relatively short amount of time and on a more regular, monthly basis. Using the flight planning software, the team was able to check the feasibility and safety of each flight at a resolution of up to 0.8 in./pixels, as well as ensure the drone battery lasted for the duration required – critically, with no data lost. The high-resolution data capturing capability of the eBee X’s purpose-built drone sensors, which included the Aeria X Photogrammetry Camera and senseFly S.O.D.A. 3D Mapping Camera, provided over 14 000 geotagged images – about 2400 per flight – on the project, which were then processed using Pix4D photogrammetry software.

Reported 30 September 2020 on globalminingreview.com: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist in the commercial industry; 

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Amazon Prime Air has been granted permission by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). This finally makes drone deliveries possible. It joins UPS, FedEx, and others in live-testing the concept, and will trial the craft in areas of low population density.

By granting permission, the FAA is stating that it believes Amazon can operate an unmanned aerial system (UAS) safely and efficiently – at least in aviation terms. Its statement added:

"The FAA’s role is to ensure that any UAS operation is performed safely. The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, especially during a health or weather-related crisis."

...A sky full of drones

But how many drones might we be talking about in this new world? In the US alone, Amazon delivers 2.5 billion packages a year – fewer than FedEx (3 billion) and UPS (4.7 billion). A combined 10 billion packages annually is roughly 27 million a day, just in the US.

If, say, just 10% of those were delivered by drone, that would be 2.7 million drone flights daily – all over local areas, given the limited range. One percent would still mean 270,000 drone flights a day, still a huge increase in air traffic.

Reported 21 September 2020 on Diginomica.com: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13 could assist in the management of all these new drones in the sky:

 

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Earlier this year, it came to The War Zone's attention that a series of bizarre and highly concerning events took place in the late Winter of 2019 at Andersen Air Force Base on the Island of Guam. As we understand it, between late February and early March of last year, the massive installation experienced repeated incursions by unmanned aircraft that appeared to be extremely interested in one highly sensitive area of the highly strategic base, the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery that is tasked with defending the island from ballistic missile attacks.

The incursions, which were said to have occurred in late March and early April 2019, had been observed by personnel manning guard towers that loom over the highly secure THAAD area situated towards the northern end of the air base, often referred to as "North West Field." Andersen itself takes up the northern and western reaches of the entire island.

The intruding craft were described as "quadcopter-like" vehicles with bright spotlights that flew from over the water and then across the North West Base area at not much higher than treetop level, about 20 to 30 feet above the ground. On a number of nights, the craft would make multiple incursions in the very early morning hours. They would show up, disappear, then come back a few hours later.

The spotlight that shone down from the craft made it hard for personnel to make out a detailed description of the craft, although estimates range from being three to five feet in diameter largely based on the size of the spotlight. The craft would maneuver dynamically, appearing with the spotlight on, then disappearing, just to reappear moments later over to one side or another with the spotlight on, which was unsettling to those that witnessed it. Supposedly, there was a concerted effort to identify, track, and down the mysterious craft, but it doesn't seem that those efforts were successful based on our understanding of events....

Reported 14 September 2020 on The Warzone: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13 could assist in the management of narcissistic drones in the sky:

Contact Department 13 for more information on effective real-time low altitude airspace situational awareness and protection of your infrastructure and assets.

DJI may be synonymous with “drone,” but after the US Armed Forces, the Pentagon, and the Department of the Interior started banning and grounding Chinese models over spying fears, it created a vacuum in the market for a drone the United States government could trust.

But the US Department of Defense may already be filling that hole. It just wrapped up a program designed to find more palatable drones — one that actually kicked off in November 2018, arguably long before the tensions with China boiled over.

The DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit is announcing not one, not two, but five such drones that have been tested, approved, and are now formally available for government use — including ones from formerly consumer-focused drone companies Skydio and Vantage (each based in California) and Parrot (based in France).

The five DIU-approved drones are:

Skydio’s X2-D
Parrot’s Anafi USA
Altavian’s M440 Ion
Teal Drones’ Golden Eagle
Vantage Robotics’ Vesper

Note that there’s nothing that necessarily kept these companies from selling drones to the US government before now. Skydio, for instance, tells The Verge that it’s already shipped some units of the X2-D to “early access customers” and has other deals in the works.

Source: TheVerge.com

Our team will be investigating the approved drones to see how they could fit into our drone ecosystem and potentially help deliver situational awareness around the globe.

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