As part of the increased use of drones worldwide, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a draft version of the first ever set of standards for drone operations to apply globally, in a bid to make drone operations safer and more efficient. The rules are expected to be adopted worldwide in 2019 and to this end, ISO has invited professionals, academics and businesses to submit comments by 21 January.
The voluntary standards, which resulted from a three-year work, include operational requirements for drones, on safety and security, flying “etiquette” around no-fly zones, geo-fencing technology that can impede flights in restricted areas, flight logging requirements, as well as training and maintenance standards.
Drones are gaining more and more ground to the maritime and offshore industry, as they are able in spotting and avoiding hazards at sea, while they are also popular in maritime surveillance. Drones can conduct inspections of cargo tanks and holds, which is dangerous for crew. In addition, dangerous gases cause many fatalities at sea, as enclosed cargo holds may contain noxious gases. Drones can also carry out inspections at height, assess the structural integrity of a vessel or to monitor the loading of cargo.
Moreover, operators are also using drones to assess the condition of assets, such as oil rigs, pipelines and offshore turbines, thus also reducing the need for risky human inspections.
The EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc initiated in October the European network for drone demonstration projects. The network aims to share knowledge on how to keep drone operations safe, secure and green. It focuses on the U-space: a system that connects all drones flying in the air and that makes all drones visible for authorities and citizens.
Meanwhile, the UK government is reportedly working on a UK Drone Bill, expected early in 2019, aiming to create its own regulatory framework on drones.