ISO Publishes Draft of New Standards for Drones

In recent years, drone sales have skyrocketed; excuse the pun. In light of this, ISO is drafting up an updated set of standards for unmanned aircraft systems; key aspects of the draft are safety, training and privacy surrounding drone use… Let’s take a look.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a draft standard for unmanned aircraft systems – UAS – more commonly known as drones. Taking a look inside the standard, according to ISO, they’re looking at “standardization in the field of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) including, but not limited to, classification, design, manufacture, operation (including maintenance) and safety management of UAS operations.”

ISO’s draft makes suggestions such as no-fly zones around airports and restricted areas, enforced by ‘geofencing’ measures in a drone’s software and GPS systems to maintain the integrity of sensitive areas where careless drone operators could prove hazardous. In addition, the standard would require operators to consider other people’s privacy while flying a drone, as well as suggestion additional training, flight logging and maintenance requirements could curb the number of accidents.

According to ISO’s website, there’s five standards currently under development, with sixteen participating members, alongside five observing members taking into consideration “product manufacturing and maintenance, operations and procedures and UAS traffic management” as well as a general standard for their use.

According to Robert Garbett, convener of the ISO working group currently looking over the standard, current legislation and regulations “are not fit to enable the industry to develop” he said.

“Everybody across the industry believes drones can be safe and of great benefit to mankind. Operators and service providers alike are keen to establish a baseline. An industry that is moving so fast needs to be standards-led, not regulation-led… It is not efficient.”

Public consultation regarding the standard will remain open until January next year, and a polished standard is expected to reach publication in 2019. As Kris Holt writes, “while the standards aren’t formal rules and similar measures are already in use in certain locales, ISO hopes they’ll become best practices for drone manufacturers and operators across the planet”, in other words, they’re a voluntary code of practice to maintain safely operating a drone.

In a global context, drone sales for personal and commercial use are expected to increase by as much as 44% between 2019 and 2027, according to an estimate from a recent report. More specifically to the US, In January of 2017, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said that registrations for drones stood at 670,000, and updated this number two-months later to 770,000; in 2018, that number now stands well clear of one-million consumer drones.

The FAA estimates that the real number is more than 1.5-million, taking into consideration those who purchase, but fail to register – a civil offence in the US – a drone. By 2021, the US is set to have 3.55-million drones flying overhead, according to the FAA’s projected 26.4% growth rate. The most extreme projection says there will be 4.5-million by 2021, while the most conservative estimate projects 2.75-million.

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