UK experts urge government to prepare for economic future of drones


Don’t be penny-wise and pound-silly. That is, in a nutshell, the expert opinion whose new report urges the UK government to make some necessary investments and regulatory measures in drone business today in order to avoid missing out on the economic rewards that l drone activity of tomorrow will bring.

The study was produced by UK think tank The Entrepreneurs Network, which looked at ways to fully harness the economic potential of the country’s future drone business that some estimate at $ 57.2 billion by now. 2030. Among the main recommendations was the appointment of a de facto or “Minister of Drones” to focus exclusively on the development and expansion of the drone-centric economy. The second flagship proposal was to invest quickly in technology and networking assets to make all recreational and commercial drones “electronically visible” to each other.

In doing so, says the organization’s “Scan the Sky” report, spending just $ 13.6 million over the next few months will allow UAVs of all kinds to become visible to each other and ensure smoother operations. sure. And by bearing the costs of equipping these drones with electronic identification devices, he continues, the government can create a new communications and navigation network to process these signals, facilitating the efficient tracking of everything. unmanned air traffic and greatly minimize the risk of collisions as their number increases as the sector’s economic activity grows.

Study co-authors Sam Dumitriu and Anton Howes note that the country’s 20,000 recreational jets operate in the same airspace – that is, under 10,000 feet – as UAVs used for trade missions. and public safety. Unlike commercial craft, however, hobbyist drones, which are much more numerous, are currently not required to carry self-identifying communication units, creating considerable potential for collisions between the two types. This risk will increase, he continues, as the booming UAV economy propels more small-scale flight companies and public service missions into increasingly congested airspace.

The study therefore calls on the UK government to bear the costs for recreational drone users to equip their craft with identification technology, describing the expense as the $ 13.6 million price tag required to unlock the economic potential of safe drones. , efficient and profitable worth $ 57.2 billion.

“The Department of Transportation was already offering recreational travelers a 50% discount on sight-seeing electronics as part of a program that expires at the end of March,” co-author Dumitriu said. “Our proposal is simply a low-cost extension and extension to solve an immediate barrier to important innovation. That would only topple the first domino in the chain, but the government will be hard pressed to find another place where an investment of this magnitude could deliver such a huge 420,000 percent return. ”

The report also calls for the responsibility for the development of drone economic activity to be removed as an additional task of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Aviation, Sea and Emergency Planning. The development of drone activity, he argues, should instead be entrusted to an official from the Ministry of Transport responsible exclusively for overseeing and promoting the expansion and diversification of the use of drones as part of mobility efforts. and decarbonization of the country.

“Our recommendation to create a junior ministerial post with specific responsibility for the drone economy comes from a desire to see this exciting and important sector treated with the necessary seriousness, with obstacles to innovation that can be addressed quickly and effectively. decisively, ”said Howe, the other co-author. “The UK has the potential to be the first nation with already congested airspace to make drones a key part of its infrastructure, but that vision will never come true if the sector’s responsibility remains so deeply buried (Department of Transport). It has to be a much higher priority. ”

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