The UK’s House of Lords is holding an enquiry into the civil use of drones, to determine whether the conditions are right “for the industry to take off”. In a call for submissions, aimed at gathering expert written and oral evidence as a precursor to its final report in March 2015, the Lords’ EU subcommittee on the internal market, infrastructure and employment said that the increased use of drones throws up “a multitude of questions”.
“How safe are they? Do drones pose a privacy risk? What are the economic benefits to the UK and EU of drones? Is the European industry falling too far behind the rest of the world? These are some of the issues” that the committee will address, in its investigation into “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)“ – the official terminology for drones, known in the US as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAVs).
Baroness O’Cathain, the committee’s chair, said that “the rise of civilian use of drones across the EU is staggering. In the UK alone the number of permissions granted for civilian use of drones in congested areas went up 40 fold between 2006 and 2013.
“With this increase comes a raft of issues that need to be addressed, such as whether safety considerations are and should be standard across Europe and whether they need to be changed; the issue of correct controls being in place to protect European citizens’ privacy and data; and if the European industry can become a global leader. Nevertheless, we must remember that too much regulation too early will kill off the industry in its infancy.”
The inquiry will focus mainly on the European Commission’s work on drones, and the deadline for submission of evidence is 19 September.