First ISO approved drone safety standards announced
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced the first ISO-approved drone standards following a 12-month period of consultation with drone professionals, academics, businesses, and the general public.
The new standards include protocols on quality, safety, security, and overall etiquette for the operation of commercial air drones. It is the first in a series of emerging standards for air drones, with others due to address general specifications, product manufacture and maintenance, unmanned traffic management (UTM), and testing procedures. The product manufacture standards for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which are due to be published next year, will combine with the operational standards already published to establish a full-airworthiness suite of standards for UAS.
Robert Garbett, Convener of the ISO working group responsible for global air drone operational standards, Chairman of the BSI Committee for UK Drone Standards, and Founder of Drone Major Group, a global drone consultancy, said, “I am delighted that the operating standards for air drones have now been approved and published. This success follows four years of collaboration involving ISO, BSI, and other national standards bodies from all over the world, reinforced through expert input from a wide range of industry and public sector stakeholders. The standards will deliver a new confidence among investors in the safety, security, and compliance of commercial drone operations, which together with the product manufacture and maintenance standards, is expected in turn to facilitate a massive expansion in the availability and use of drone technology in the years to come.
“Drones are a transformative global phenomenon, offering an unprecedented economic opportunity for those businesses and countries with the foresight to embrace this technology. My own conversations with government, businesses, and other stakeholders have shown that the new standards will be enthusiastically welcomed and will empower organizations to discover how they can use drone technology to enhance their competitive position, adding value and creating growth and jobs.”
A key attribute of the ISO standards is their focus on air safety. The new standards promote an etiquette for drone use that reinforces compliance toward no-fly zones, local regulation, flight log protocols, maintenance, training, and flight planning documentation. The effectiveness of the standards in improving air safety will be further strengthened by the continuing rapid development of geo-fencing and counter-drone technology, providing frontline protection against “rogue” drone operators.
The standards also seek 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 held accountable.
Air drones are already beginning to provide solutions to some of the most pressing economic, transport, security, environmental, and productivity challenges faced by governments and industry throughout the world, reducing road traffic, easing congestion, saving lives through a reduction in accidents, and reducing pollution in cities. As well as speeding up the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, drones are expected to reduce the need for some expensive new major transport infrastructure altogether.
A number of recent reports have attempted to forecast the economic impact of air drones globally. For instance, in its report Drones Reporting for Work, Goldman Sachs has estimated that the size of the global drone industry will reach $100 billion by 2020. Most recently, analysts at Barclays estimate that the global commercial drone market will grow tenfold from $4 billion in 2018 to $40 billion in five years. They believe that the use of drones will result in cost savings of some $100 billion. These predictions relate solely to air drones, demonstrating that the economic benefits offered by drone technology are vast, with growth set to accelerate across surface, underwater, air, and space, as well as emerging hybrid drone applications.