New drone standards

Jon Lawson

New drone standards are to be unveiled in the UK for the first time in Spring 2018 which are expected to lead to strengthened public confidence in safety, security and compliance within an industry which is set to be one of the fastest growth sectors in the world. These standards are set to release the true potential of this industry, which will revolutionise the way we live, and transform business sectors from transport to infrastructure, agriculture to medicine - across air, land, sea and space.

The announcement was made at an event at the House of Lords sponsored by Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB, LVO, OBE, DL on behalf of the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Drone Major Group, whose founder and Chief Executive is Chairman of the BSI Committee responsible for drone standards.

The event was attended by BSI Chairman Sir David Brown, politicians including Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg, and other senior stakeholders in the drone industry, including manufacturers, users, service providers, economists, academics and media.

Sir David Brown commented “BSI is playing a pivotal role in supporting the exciting global future for drones through its work on standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Standards accelerate innovation, boost productivity and enable trade, while promoting safety and consumer protection.”

Robert Garbett, in his role as Chairman of the BSI Committee on drone standards, stated in a speech that “after several years of work and global collaboration, detailed draft standards are expected to reach BSI Committee stage by Spring 2018, following which there will be a period of wider consultation, expected then to lead to adoption shortly thereafter.”

He commented “Drones, empowered by Standards that can be trusted and relied upon are the key to many of our economic, transport, security, environmental and productivity challenges of today. They will open up new avenues to innovation that we can only begin to imagine. Two years ago drones were forecast to spawn a $100 billion industry by 2020. But today the opportunities are perceived to be even greater than this since such projections were based upon available data at that time which predominantly focused on the air industry, and we define the entire drone industry as covering surface, underwater, air, and space. If you look at the entire picture the figures are much larger and growing faster than anyone expected. If you then forecast the impact of integrating drone technologies across these environments, the figures will take on an ever more exciting dimension.”

In the transport industry drones are bringing new possibilities to freight and passenger transport on land, water and in the air, which will reduce the need for expensive infrastructure projects, reduce road traffic, ease congestion, save lives and reduce pollution in our cities.

In infrastructure and construction, drones are already significantly reducing the time and resources needed to plan and build roads and buildings, making the progress faster, safer and much more cost effective. Drones are shaping plans for new smart cities for which the use of these technologies will be part of the fabric of life.

In agriculture, drones will use advanced scanning technology to detect crop disease before it is visible to the human eye and assist in the intelligent use of pesticides, thus dramatically reducing our exposure to them and increasing crop yields.

In medicine, drones are already being trailed which are able to attend the scene of an accident within minutes to scan the area in 3D, feed this information to the emergency services to assist with access and pre-attendance assessment, and then land with medical supplies.

In the marine environment, Remotely Operated Vehicles or Unmanned Underwater Vehicles have been used extensively in the inspection and repair of pipelines and oil rigs for many years. Indeed this sector is very well established in many respects as a standalone industry, and is often neglected when calculating the growth of the drone market. As the range of applications for drones in the marine environment expands into exploration, environmental monitoring and intervention, the value to the industry is rapidly increasing. This is definitely a sector to watch as technologies create opportunities for businesses and investors.

Garbett added “The potential for the drone industry worldwide is huge, and particularly for the UK economy where the combination of our intellectual capital – our technology, engineering, innovation, governance, and above all, our development and support of high standards – is world class.”


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