The drone industry hasn’t exploded at quite the pace that the experts in 2013 wanted you to believe (we’re looking at Jeff Bezos, who promised Amazon drone delivery within just a few years). But it’s not the technology’s fault. The tech necessary for widespread drone use is largely there. It’s the governments that need to create policies that enable drone use that aren’t actually there yet.
But some countries are actually pretty close to making widespread drone use a reality. The three governments best prepared for drone operations are:
That’s according to the Drone Regulations Report 2020 from German drone analytics firm Drone Industry Insights. As part of the report, DII looked at the countries that had made the most improvements in operational scope of drone regulations, as well as those that allow better integration of drones into their respective airspaces.
Singapore’s government has been especially onboard with promoting drone use since coronavirus. In April, the Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX) of Singapore, which is a statutory board formed under Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs, began using drones to augment Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) efforts in policing people not appropriately social distancing, using drones are there to “track anomalies such as congregations of people,” which were banned during a Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period.
And the UAE has been an even earlier promoter of drones, having defined rules for flying drones in the UAE early on (they discussed them extensively in a 2016 conference in UAE, which I actually spoke at!). Dubai especially jumped on using drones, thanks largely to the “Dubai Smart Government Plan” which used drones for initiatives such a policing and monitoring infrastructure.
The good news for other countries is that many governments are set to make big moves when it comes to national tests, setting new policies and releasing new legislation, that could help the drone industry move forward. New European Union drone regulations are set to go live in January 2021. Just this month, the first drone identification service launched in Switzerland after UAS Traffic Management (UTM) company ANRA Technologies launched its SmartSkies DroneID technology in partnership with the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation and Swiss U-Space Implementation. Their tech enables public safety organizations (and next year, the general public) to identify drones operating in their vicinity by providing the drone registration number and mission information. In Switzerland’s version of the tech, additional operator details will be available to qualified authorities upon request, which the company says “protects operator privacy.”
It’s important that governments in other countries join those like Singapore, UAE in Poland in allowing easier drone use, if the drone industry is set to grow. After all, accroding to DII’s report, 35% of industry experts say that drone regulations remain the biggest hurdle for growth of drone operations.
And in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration just released its final rule on Remote ID, which sets forward a new, clear path for drone technology and how drones will be regulated. Under new requirements issued in late December, drones will need to broadcast remote ID messages with information such as ID; latitude/longitude; altitude, and velocity of the drone. Drones can either do it directly from the drone itself or via a Remote ID Broadcast Module. Operators who don’t want to broadcast identification can otherwise only fly in FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (or FRIA), which are “geographic areas recognized by the FAA where unmanned aircraft not equipped with Remote ID are allowed to fly.”