A House of Lords committee has said that the UK should create a database of drone owners and flights to bring order to this rapidly expanding area.
The EU Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Sub-Committee report said that, while drones have the potential to create 150,000 jobs in Europe by 2050, there is also a substantial risk from their unregulated use.
Committee chairwoman Baroness O’Cathain said: “The growth in civilian drone use has been astonishing and they are taking to the skies faster than anyone could have predicted. 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. It would just take one disastrous accident to destroy public confidence and set the whole industry back.”
In light of these concerns, the committee said that a database of drone owners should be created, and that all flights should be tracked by GPS and uploaded to a public website for anyone to access.
“We foresee the need for a system which can track and trace all RPAS [Remotely Piloted Aircraft System] especially those flying below 500ft, irrespective of whether they are flown by commercial or leisure pilots,” the report said.
“This will be essential not only to manage the increased traffic in the sky, but to enforce existing and future laws governing RPAS use.”
The report also suggested that the government should look at the use of ‘geo-fencing’ technology to stop drones flying in certain areas or above certain heights.
“Geo-fencing could be a useful tool for preventing hazardous RPAS flights in sensitive areas,” it said.
“Over the next year, we recommend that the government, along with the European Commission, should approach the industry to assess how this technology could be more widely applied.”
Drones are posing questions for authorities in the UK. The Information Commissioner’s Office noted last year that it will include such gadgets in its forthcoming revue of CCTV camera use.