New applications for drones are being developed daily, right from applications for freight and passenger transportation, drone applications in the agricultural, maritime, to construction and energy sectors. The lack of universal standards to operate drones has however led to mishaps too.
Now, in a revolutionary step the International Standards Organisation ISO has released the first-ever worldwide standards for the drone industry for public consultation. Drone professionals, academics, businesses and the general public are being invited to submit comments by 21 January 2019 to the ISO Draft International Standards for Drone Operations.
The final adoption of the standards is expected to play a key role in guiding how drones are used safely and effectively. They are also likely to provide a catalyst for the expansion of the drone industry. The draft standards protocols are the first in a four-part series for aerial drones, with the next three addressing General Specifications, Manufacturing Quality and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM).
Robert Garbett, Convenor of the ISO Working Group responsible for global drone operational Standards, 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. It’s very encouraging that the UK Government is a world leader in recognising the importance of this vital business sector. My conversations with drone buyers, manufacturers, users and the wider public indicate that these Standards are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by all. I would encourage all those with an interest in drones to engage with the consultation process so that no stone has been left unturned in our quest for the creation and adoption of best-practice drone Standards.”
ISO’s announcement encompasses applications for all environments — ground, underwater, air and space.
Air safety: The new 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. Social responsibility is also at the heart of the Standards, strengthening the responsible use of a technology that aims to improve and not obstruct everyday life.
Privacy and data protection: The Standards are also 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;
- updated hardware and software of all related operating equipment and
- The fail-safe of human intervention be a requisite for all drone flights, including autonomous operations.
Amateur drone pilots have also come close to causing mid air collisions with commercial aircraft. Figures show that drone near-miss incidents have tripled in two years. Clearly drone manufacturers and operators will be forced to step up their standards to meet new regulations aimed at taming the “wild west” of airspace.