New operating standards for drones due in spring will boost confidence in the technology, and increase its potential to transform industries and improve the UK economy, according to the British Standards Institute (BSI).
The introduction of trustworthy standards for drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles – in the UK and globally will energise the industry and help UK plc, said Robert Garbett, chairman of the BSI Committee on Drone Standards, which has been working on the standard for several years in collaboration with other global organisations.
The standards will be released in draft form in spring and put out to wider consultation, with adoption expected ‘shortly thereafter’, said Garbett.
“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,” he said. “They will open up new avenues to innovation that we can only begin to imagine.”
The drone market was expected to be worth $100bn worldwide by 2020, according to a 2016 Goldman Sachs report, touching many industries. Today’s expectations are even higher, said Garbett.
“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.”
Growth will rely on educating the public to the positive impact drones can have, investment in research and development, and governments supporting the drone industry without choking it with over regulation, he said.
The BSI has a growing committee base developing the unmanned aircraft system standards, and is seeking businesses that can add value to engage. “Our role in the BSI Committee is to be actively involved in the development of the international standards, decide on the level of adoption of the international standards by the UK and to develop new National standards for presentation and possible adoption by the international community,” Garbett told SM. Garbett set out key areas of growth for drones:
Freight and passenger transport: where drones could reduce road traffic and enable workers to live further afield, bringing wealth to the regions and reducing infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure: where drones are already reducing planning time and resources, as well as speeding production and reducing dangers.
Agriculture: where surveying land, monitoring crops and delivery of pesticides will increasingly help to improve crop yields.
Medicine: already being trialled to deliver information from accidents to aid emergency services and deliver medical supplies.
Marine: remotely operated vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles are already conducting inspections and repairs, and growth is expected to reach into exploration, environmental monitoring and intervention.
Mining: accessing areas previously unaccessible.
Defence: meeting threats while reducing risk to lives.
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