The European Union plans to kick off the implementation of rules on autonomous drones by 2019 as a part of an effort to ensure safety in the operation of these unmanned aerial systems. Europe’s commission tasked with formulating the region’s system for air traffic control seeks to develop a set of unmanned drone policies similar to air traffic controls currently used to regulate manned aircraft. On top of an air traffic control system for drones, the EU also wants to put in place a registration system with the goal of keeping unmanned objects from flying over restricted areas. Additionally, a remote identification system will also be enforced to monitor unmanned aircraft from far away. A remote identification system of drones is intended to help guarantee the operational safety and traffic management of unmanned drones.
EU says the long-term goal of implementing drone policies in the near term is to help advance Europe’s emerging drone technology ahead of the competition and tap business opportunities for commercial drones. In the US, a new committee tasked with creating a remote identification system for drones was formed in March this year by the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency responsible for air traffic management. While existing air traffic rules in the US already require commercial pilots to register their drones, these policies do not apply to non-commercial drones, including those unmanned vehicles flown by hobbyists. Back in 2015, the FAA joined forces with the leading tech giants in the US to develop a drone registration system. The alliance included Amazon, Google, GoPro, DJI, Parrot, Walmart and Best Buy, with the aim of establishing a set of rules for identifying a drone’s owner.
Meanwhile, the EU has an existing set of drone rules, though these are only meant to regulate unmanned objects with a minimum weight of 330lbs. Also, the task of developing national rules for drones is on each member state, resulting in a fragmented regulation. The EU says such a gap in drone rules across the region impedes efforts to develop new products and rapidly introduce fresh technologies. Worse, this fragmentation can lead to safety risks, the EU says. With the coming implementation of new drone rules in Europe, it’s interesting to see how an integrated regulation helps define the future of drones.