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New worldwide drone standards have been proposed – will they affect you?




Over the past few years, UAVs have become firmly integrated into many aspects of our lives.

However, the laws governing drone usage around the globe vary widely and are not always clearly known to pilots. This has led to confusion and poor behaviour from a minority of users.

Last week a proposed set of universal drone standards were released by The International Organisation of Standardization (ISO). The standards are open for public consideration through to January 21, 2019, and readable here. The aim of the laws? To keep both drone owners and the public safe and to hold pilots responsible for their actions.

From photography to real estate, agriculture to deliveries – drones have become a technology that plays multiple important roles in modern society.

Problem is – until now there have not been drone laws and regulations that are consistent across countries. That means anyone who travels with their drone may find it difficult to know what the rules are, particularly in places that have not specifically drafted UAV laws or regulations.

The many incidents around the world involving near-misses between planes and drones have convinced most leaders in the drone community of the importance of having a set of rules that all UAV users are familiar with. This will hopefully avoid any tragedies and prevent future laws that are far harsher than what is currently being proposed.

What do the standards propose?

As it stands, these standards are only voluntary but they cover surface, underwater, air and space drones.

  • No-fly-zones: 

This is a bit of a no-brainer. The document calls for restricted zones near airports and geo-fencing sensitive locations. Although these are already in place in most countries, it is not yet universal.

  • Training and maintenance: 

It asks for training, logging and maintenance requirements for all drone pilots. We are certainly in favor of training, particularly for larger drones that can pose a significant risk to people or property if they crash.

  • Privacy and data protection

Their standards call on drone users to have proper systems in place to protect themselves and the public from unwanted invasions of privacy. They also call on users’ to keep their drones’ software up to date.

  • Accountability

The standards propose that humans should always be involved in drone flights, even in the age of automation. This ensures a level of accountability that might otherwise be lost.

The importance of these rules is hard to overstate. Although many countries already have strong drone laws (particularly the US where most of our readers hail from), the lack of universality across countries perhaps holds some nations and organizations back from the adoption of drone technology.

Final adoption of these standards by the US, UK and elsewhere is expected following the end of the consultation period in 2019

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