New standards provide public assurance on safety, security and etiquette for use of drones

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The first ever worldwide standards for the drone industry are being released by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

After several years of global collaboration between standards institutions from across the world, the long-awaited drone standards have been developed.

These regulations are expected to trigger rapid acceleration of growth within the drone industry as organisations throughout the world are galvanised to adopt drone technology against a new background of reassurance on safety and security. The new standards will play an essential role in guiding how drones are used safely and effectively in a framework of regulatory compliance.

The ISO Draft International Standards for Drone Operations have been formally released today (21 November 2018) for public consultation, with drone professionals, academics, businesses and the general public being invited to submit comments by 21 Jan 2019. Final adoption of these Standards can be expected in the US, UK and worldwide next year.

The announcement is the first important step in the standardisation of the global drone industry, encompassing applications for all environments - surface, underwater, air and space. Today’s standards are particularly significant for the general public and Government, in that they address Operational Requirements of the more recognised and prevalent aerial drones, including protocols on safety, security and overall etiquette for the use of drones, which will shape regulation and legislation going forward. They 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).

Air safety

A prime characteristic of the ISO Standards announced today, is their focus on air safety, which is at the forefront of public attention in connection with airports and other sensitive locations. 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. The effectiveness of the standards in improving air safety will be further strengthened by the rapid development of geo-fencing and of counter-drone technology, providing frontline protection against ‘rogue’ drone use.

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. The hardware and software of all related operating equipment must also be kept up to date. Significantly, the fail-safe of human intervention is required for all drone flights, including autonomous operations, ensuring that drone operators are accountable.