THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) wants to get a handle on the use of civil drones, remotely piloted helicopters that could be used to deliver books or just bother people.
Google, Amazon and Facebook have all announced plans for using drones, and their use is widely expected. With this in mind, the EC wants to establish "tough standards" for regulating drones.
"The new standards will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability," it said. "The aim is to allow European industry to become a global leader in the market for this emerging technology, while at the same time ensuring that all the necessary safeguards are in place."
The EC said that drones are becoming increasingly popular and are common in Sweden, France and the UK. It is concerned that while there are "basic national safety rules" there is no overall, safeguarding standard, and that the time to create some is now.
"Civil drones can check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy. They come in all shapes and sizes. In the future they may even deliver books from your favourite online retailer. But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security and privacy issues relating to these devices," said EC VP Siim Kallas, the commissioner for mobility and transport.
"If ever there was a right time to do this, and to do this at a European level, it is now. Because remotely piloted aircraft, almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in its infancy. We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft."
The standards will set forth safety measures, the EC said, and "tough controls on privacy and data protection". For example, any data that is collected by a remotely piloted aircraft must be covered by the same rules as any other data collected. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ