The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has announced the world’s first approved drone standards following a 12-month period of consultation with drone professionals, academics, businesses and the general public. The final publication of these new international safety and quality Standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are set to have a massive impact on the future growth of the drone industry throughout the world, and, are the product of several years of cooperation and rigorous interrogation from all sectors of society.
This important first step is part of a wider deliverable by ISO which is expected to trigger rapid acceleration in the use of air drones by organisations keen to reap the rewards of this transformative technology, against a background of reassurance on safety and security within a new framework of approved regulatory compliance.
The ISO announcement represents enormous progress in the standardisation of the global drone industry and is of particular significance in addressing the operational requirements of the more recognised and prevalent air drones, or unmanned aerial systems. The new standards include protocols on quality, safety, security and overall ‘etiquette’ for the operation of commercial air drones, which will help shape future regulation and legislation. It is the first in a series of emerging standards for air drones, with others due to address general specifications, product manufacture and maintenance, Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) and testing procedures. The product manufacture standards for UAS, which are due to be published next year, will combine with the operational standards already published to establish a full-airworthiness suite of standards for UAS.
Commenting on the announcement, Robert Garbett, Convenor of the ISO Working Group responsible for global drone operational standards, chairman of the BSI Committee for UK Drone Standards, and founder of Drone Major Group said: “I am delighted that the operating standards for air drones have now been approved and published. This success follows four years of collaboration involving ISO, BSI and other national standards bodies from all over the world, reinforced through expert input from a wide range of industry and public sector stakeholders. The Standards will deliver a new confidence among investors in the safety, security and compliance of commercial drone operations, which together with the product manufacture and maintenance standards, is expected in turn to facilitate a massive expansion in the availability and use of drone technology in the years to come.”
A key attribute of the ISO standards is their focus on air safety, which is at the forefront of public attention in connection with airports and other sensitive locations. The new standards promote an ‘etiquette’ for drone use that reinforces compliance towards no-fly zones, local regulation, flight log protocols, maintenance, training and flight planning documentation. Social responsibility is also at the heart of the standards, which strengthens the responsible use of a technology that aims to improve and not disrupt everyday life. The effectiveness of the Standards in improving air safety will be further strengthened by the continuing rapid development of geo-fencing and counter-drone technology providing frontline protection against ‘rogue’ drone operators.
The standards also seek to address public concerns surrounding privacy and data protection, demanding that operators must have appropriate systems to handle data alongside communications and control planning when flying. The hardware and software of all related operating equipment must also be kept up to date. Significantly, the fail-safe of human intervention is required for all drone flights, including autonomous operations, ensuring that drone operators are held accountable.
Air drones are already beginning to provide solutions to some of the most pressing economic, transport, security, environmental and productivity challenges faced by governments and industry throughout the world, reducing road traffic, easing congestion, saving lives through a reduction in accidents and reducing pollution in our cities. As well as speeding up the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, drones are expected to reduce the need for some expensive new major transport infrastructure altogether.
ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies (ISO member bodies). It is an independent, non-governmental international organisation that works through its members to develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant International standards. Standards are produced through industries coming together to develop best practice. They improve the quality and performance of products and services, making them safer, reducing risk and making businesses more sustainable. Standards help promote trade, enable innovation, promote productivity and protect consumers. They also provide an essential role in helping Government to set a regulatory framework that informs future legislation.
As defined by the British Standards Institution (BSI), a drone is any vehicle, ship, aircraft, or hybrid system which is remotely or autonomously controlled. This includes driverless cars, pilotless aircraft, satellites, spacecraft, underwater ROVs, marine surface vehicles and hybrid systems which are increasingly breaking down environmental barriers by operating seamlessly between land, sea and air or simultaneously in all three.
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