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ISO releases first worldwide drone standards

International Standards Organisation (ISO) has published the international draft of ISO standards for drone operations to determine how to use drones safely and effectively in compliance with regulatory requirements

image001New standards provide public assurance on safety, security and ‘etiquette’ for use of drones. (Image source: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)

Drones experts, academics, businesses and the public are invited to comment on the standards by 21 January 2019, with the final adoption of these standards expected in the US, UK and worldwide in 2019.

It is expected that the new standards will trigger a rapid acceleration of growth in the drone industry as organisations throughout the world are galvanised to adopt drone technology against a new background of reassurance on safety and security.

The announcement by ISO is the first important step in the standardisation of the global drone industry, encompassing applications for all environments-surface, underwater, air and space.

The first drone standards are significant for the general public and government, in that they address operational requirements of the more recognised and prevalent aerial drones, including protocols on safety, security and overall ‘etiquette’ for the use of drones.

Air safety

A prime characteristic of the ISO standards is the focus on air safety, which is at the forefront of public attention in connection with airports and other sensitive locations.

The standards act as a new ‘etiquette’ for drones which promote and reinforce compliance regarding no-fly zones, local regulation, flight log protocols, maintenance, training and flight planning documentation.

The effectiveness of the standards in improving air safety will be further strengthened by the rapid development of geo-fencing and of counter-drone technology, providing frontline protection against ‘rogue’ drone use.

Privacy and data protection

The standards are set to address public concerns surrounding privacy and data protection, demanding that operators must have appropriate systems to handle data alongside communications and control planning when flying.

The hardware and software of all related operating equipment must also be kept up to date. Significantly, the fail-safe of human intervention is required for all drone flights, including autonomous operations, ensuring that drone operators are accountable.

The exciting future for drones

Empowered by standards, drones are set to provide the strategic to some of the most pressing economic, transport, security, environmental and productivity challenges faced by governments and industry throughout the world, reducing road traffic, easing congestion, saving lives through a reduction in accidents and reducing pollution in our cities. As well as speeding up the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, drones are expected to reduce the need for some major transport projects altogether.

Further applications in areas such as agriculture, shipping, construction and energy are already transforming businesses.

The impact on UK Plc

PWC predicted that the UK aerial drone industry will contribute US$54bn and 628,000 jobs to the UK economy by 2030, while Goldman Sachs estimates that the world's air drone market will reach US$100bn by 2020.

Robert Garbett, convenor of the ISO working group, chairman of the BSI committee for UK drone standards and founder of drone major group, said, “Drones represent a global phenomenon and an unprecedented economic opportunity for any country which embraces the technology. The UK Drone Bill, due in early 2019 will create a regulatory framework that allows the industry to flourish in an environment that is both safe and responsible.”


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