UK: The Department for Transport in the UK has launched an inquiry into the non-military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and how they can be developed and regulated in the UK. The concern has been raised about the growing number of drones posing safety risks, with high-profile reports of aircraft and helicopters coming close to colliding with UAVs.
There are also worries about the harm a drone could do if it were to suffer a fault that caused it to crash to the earth. The potential for drones to compromise privacy have proved to be an issue. A recent report published by PwC stated the wide-ranging use of UAVs to create an addressable global market worth $127bn.
PwC’s experts said that fast-growing areas where drones are being utilised include surveying, where their cameras and sensors get a bird’s eye view that provides an “unparalleled level of very practical data, which is indisputable digital evidence”.
As well as drones being faster at carrying out surveys than traditional human methods, PwC called the data they provide “an indisputable source of digital data, that’s accurate to centimetres, rather than much larger ‘deviations’ humans give”.
Other uses for drone technology named in the report include delivery of parcels – as Amazon is pioneering in Cambridgeshire – along with agriculture, where the vehicles are used to spray crops accurately, only targeting the areas which need treatment. In the future they could also be used for construction, according to PwC analysts.
However, there are concerns about the growing numbers of drones posing safety risks, with high-profile reports of aircraft and helicopters coming close to colliding with UAVs. There are also worries about the harm a drone could do if it were to suffer a fault that caused it to crash to the earth. The potential for drones to compromise privacy have proved to be an issue.
Announcing the inquiry, Transport Select Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: ”Civilian drones have the potential to fundamentally change how many industries – including the transport sector – work.
“The inquiry will consider the implications of this technology. We will also be asking whether enough is being done to ensure drone technology can reach its potential without compromising the safety of other aircraft and the public in general.”
The committee wants to written evidence from interested parties about UAVs and is particularly interested to hear about safety issues, controls on how pilots of the unmanned aircraft can be trained and registered, how UAVs can be insured, and legislation relating to misuse of drones.
The inquiry – which closes on May 26 – is additionally interested in evidence on the dangers of laser pens being used to distract the pilots of aircraft.