Dezeen Magazine

DJI Phantom 1

UK calls for EU database to track active drones

News: the UK's House of Lords has called for stricter rules on drone management, but says that the production of unmanned aerial vehicles in the European Union could create 150,000 jobs.

In a report issued today, the House of Lords – the UK Parliament's second chamber – called for the creation of an online database for tracking and managing drone operations across the EU.

It also urged Europe to lead the way in drone manufacturing, stating that the production of the vehicles could potentially create of 150,000 jobs by 2050.

The Civilian Use of Drones in the EU report – a response to the European Commission's proposal for drones – said that trust in the use of drones from members of the public was needed for the sector to fulfil its potential.

"We need to find ways to manage and keep track of drone traffic," said Detta O'Cathain, chair of the House of Lords EU sub committee that commissioned the report.

"That is why a key recommendation is that drone flights must be traceable, effectively through an online database, which the general public could access via an app. We need to use technology creatively, not just to manage the skies, but to help police them as well."

The proposed online database would be used by both commercial and leisure operators, who could register their drones using an app.

The report also suggested widening the application of geo-fencing technology, which limits flights over high-risk sites by creating virtual barriers with software built into the drones.

The need for guidance on enforcing existing safety rules and shared manufacturing standards across the EU was also highlighted.

"The growth in civilian drone use has been astonishing and they are taking to the skies faster than anyone could have predicted," said O'Cathain. "We have a huge opportunity to make Europe a world leader in drone technology."

"But there's also a risk — public understanding of how to use drones safely may not keep pace with people's appetite to fly them," she added. "It would just take one disastrous accident to destroy public confidence and set the whole industry back."

Drones are currently used for applications such as photography, filming and surveying. Various developments suggest they will soon be performing tasks including cargo shipping and search and rescue.

However, the vehicles have repeatedly made the headlines over the past few months for issues surrounding safety and privacy. Most recently, unmanned aerial vehicles with unidentifiable operators have been spotted multiple times over Paris.