Posted by Philip Banks-Welsh, Partner
Drones can lift the UK economy, so why is the law weighing us down?
As Google’s ‘Wing’ drones have been approved to make public deliveries in Australia it is becoming increasingly clear that airborne drones will play a significant role in our future. With advances in technology, few could argue that the private, public, and commercial applications of airborne drones is huge. But is the UK at risk of being left behind by failing to incubate this potentially lucrative industry?
UK law really needs to get to grips with the fundamental clash between the current regulations on the one hand and the demands and aspirations of commercial drone operators on the other. This has to happen sooner rather than later if the UK is going to establish itself as a world leader in developing and facilitating this technology.
The opportunity is now
Few of us are opposed to the idea of the likes of Amazon ultimately delivering products to our doors by air. Equally, who would have any objections to airborne drones being used to deliver life saving organs or blood rather than ambulances trying to navigate increasingly crowded streets? Furthermore, with recent advances in electric powered jet technology it no longer requires an enormous stretch of the imagination to anticipate pilotless taxis moving in low level airspace!
The idea of drones fulfilling these functions is becoming ever more obvious and inevitable in the minds of the general public.
The economy is being held back
By contrast, against this new “normality” of thinking about the application of airborne drones, we have the current regulatory regime.
This restricts drone use in ways which are entirely incompatible with the concepts, opportunities, and ambitions outlined above.
Limitations imposed by regulations, including line of sight operations and operating at certain distances away from members of the public, can only serve to frustrate the limitless applications of airborne drone technology.
Admittedly society in general still needs to fully embrace and accept the concept of airborne drones operating around us, but we need to look beyond the potential risks that might come from such use. As a society we managed this conceptual leap with the use of trains and then motor vehicles and we need to apply the same thought processes to the regulation of airborne drones.
UK as a global hub for the drone industry
It is for the legislature to take the lead in driving this process towards its inevitable conclusion, and there is a real opportunity here for the Government to demonstrate that it is in tune with technology and make the UK as a global hub for the drone industry. Providing the safe foundations for all the wonderful and exciting ways that drones can improve our lives and enrich our economy.
If you have any queries regarding the commercial use of drones or drone law, please contact Philip Banks-Welsh on:
01225 730155 Email us