EU discusses best way to regulate drones

The European Transport Committee has drafted a report into the best way to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) without stifling investment in the expanding sector.

It is a rapidly evolving market, with commercial use of drones in different sectors being explored globally.

For example, earlier this month, Finnish courier firm Posti launched a four-day trial of using drones in an e-commerce operation to deliver packages to a populated, urban town.

A robotic helicopter flew goods of a suitable dimension between Helsinki on the mainland to the island of Suomenlinna, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The company said it was the first European trial to use a drone to deliver packages in an urban area.

“What we have seen over the last 15 years is a huge growth in this industry,” said MEP Jacqueline Foster. “Civil drones are being used to check crops in the fields, to look at humanitarian disasters, forest fires and railway lines, in the film industry.”

She added: “The key here is to ensure the safe use of drones. We do not want to tie the hands of regulators and be too prescriptive, but provide a framework for how they can proceed.”

According to the transport committee, drones must be able to detect aircraft using the same airspace, ensuring that there is no risk to the safety of manned aircraft.

In addition committee members believe densely-populated areas, no-fly zones, such as airports, power plants, nuclear and chemical plants, and other critical infrastructure, should be taken into consideration.

MEPs will vote on the resolution during the plenary session at the end of October.

Find out more about the opportunities, the need for proper training and what should be done about the privacy issue in a video interview with Jacqueline Foster, who is in charge of steering the new rules through Parliament.