Regulation of Drones: A Comparative Analysis

Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize, in positive ways to help society” -Bill Gates.

The technology sector is developing at a faster pace than expected and is expected to grow further too. One of the examples of technological development is drones. Although they have been present in the past, they didn’t get much attention as they do now. Drones are referred to as an unmanned aerial vehicle system which is controlled from the ground cockpit. The drones are equipped with various accessories like a camera, GPS, various sensors, navigation systems and other software too. Currently, these drones come in various shapes and sizes. Drones are very feasible i.e. easy to handle as even a child can control a drone with a remote controller.  In the past, the making of these drones was restricted for military uses only. However, this has changed as now drones are being utilized by every sector, and the results are promising too.

Drones are very useful as they can go to some places where a man physically can’t go, whether controlled by a remote or an app it can enter any inaccessible area with minimum manpower. Drones are being used by various sectors so that it can reduce their manpower cost and provide services in the most efficient manner.

Various applications of drone technology

Military purpose – Use of drones as a defence system goes back to world war 1, where the countries tried to develop unmanned aeroplanes. These drones are mostly used by the military to scout enemy bases, also some specific drones that are bigger in size are used to attack enemy bases by entering enemy territory and launching missiles by navigation through the ground cockpit. Military spending will remain the main force of drone investment in the coming years, as per a recent study by Goldman Sachs. Goldman predicts that by 2020, the global military will be spending $70 billion on drones, and these drones will play a major role in settling future wars and replacing the human pilot.[1]

Disaster management or emergency response services– the drones which have a camera are useful in emergency services as a drone can enter the area where it is not physically possible to go. It would help in identifying the location of the victim. Delft Technology University has developed an emergency drone which could carry defibrillators on demand. Drones may even be able to significantly improve survival rates in both rural and urban regions of the world by expanding existing emergency facilities.[2] In case of disaster management drones are helpful too as after an earthquake, cyclones or a flood, they can help in identifying the damage incurred and also the location of the victims.

Agriculture services – Drone technology will offer a high-tech revamp to the agriculture sector, with planning and decision making focused on data collection and processing in real-time. PwC is estimating the demand for drone-powered agricultural solutions at $32.4 billion. UAVs could include fleets, or swarms of autonomous drones that could collectively to address agricultural monitoring tasks, and also hybrid aerial-ground drone actors that could obtain information and perform several different tasks.[3]

Waste management – Using drones for waste management can help the government monitor various landfills. Drones can improve several waste management activities, such as waste disposal and landfill surveillance. These drones may also help with garbage cleaning at Mount Everest. Climbers will use drones to detect and collect garbage. Drones will also help to prevent littering and control landfills.[4]

Media services – drones can be used for media coverage where a journalist cannot go. It is difficult for a reporter to enter a flooded region, however, by using drones, the aerial view of that affected area can be covered. The team can then capture footage with drones that will be hard to obtain otherwise due to security problems, heavy expenses or physical barriers.

The drones can be used for various other activities as well which are not listed above. After studying these uses various negative implications can also be found. One of them is that these drones do pose a threat to the privacy of an individual. It may question the proficiency of humans. People might lose jobs due to the utilization of these drones too. Thus, proper and justified rules and regulations are required to regulate the usage of drones in various sectors of an economy. Laws must be made keeping in mind the aeronautical laws as well. Currently, only a few countries have allowed the usage of drones. All the countries which have allowed the usage of drones have formed different norms.  

Regulation of drones: a comparative analysis

According to the U.S. National Aviation Authority, flying drones are not illegal, but they do have some restrictions. Registration of drones must be done, following community-based guidelines, they are to be flown in a particular airspace, specific weight and height is mentioned for drones and getting a Remote Pilot Certificate is compulsory.

Flying drones are legal in the United Kingdom as per the Civil Aviation Authority. The person has to pass a theory test to get a Flyer ID, they also need to register in order to get an Operator ID. The drones must be flown 50 metres away from people, vehicles, buildings etc. There are additional laws if the drone has to be flown commercially.

In Australia, laws regarding drones are not in force but they would be implemented in the future. A Remote pilot license and an Operational Certificate would be a must. Large drones would require an Airworthiness Certificate.  

In Canada, the laws regarding drones are different based on their purpose. For some uses, a certificate would not be compulsory and for others, it would be compulsory. Although, new laws are being made so as to remove the current dissimilarity based on their utility.

In China, laws related to flying drones have recently been passed by China’s Civil Flight Regulatory Body. It specifies that a drone weighing more than 116 kg should not be flown and should not be flown at more than the specified speed. Same laws are applicable for using drones in different sectors like agriculture, forest protection etc.[5]

Drone regulations in India

According to National Aviation Authority and Civil Aviation Ministry, flying drones are legal in India. These laws came into force in 2018 specifying the requirements for flying a drone.

Following are the rules regarding flying of drones in India-

  • All drones except those in the Nano category must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
  • A permit is required for commercial drone operations (except for those in the Nano category flown below 50 feet and those in the Micro category flown below 200 feet).
  • Drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight at all times while flying.
  • Drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet vertically.
  • Drones cannot be flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones”, which include areas near airports, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations, and military installations.
  • Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained by filing a flight plan and obtaining a unique Air Defence Clearance (ADC)/Flight Information Centre (FIC) number.[6]

Conclusion

Drones are the future of the technology industry, and the laws relating to drone technology are new, however, these laws will keep on evolving in the future to keep up with the dynamism of our society. The benefits of using a drone are numerous. They can play a major role in both developed and developing countries. Drones can help in eliminating the potential threats that may arise in different sectors. They would help in the reduction of both time and cost. At the same time, their usage will increase the efficiency of the tasks performed in different areas.

Nonetheless, as we enlist the advantages, we mustn’t forget that they come with their own set of problems, one of the major threats being the invasion of privacy and the unemployment they would cause. Drones might be considered essential for the economic development of a country but at the same time, it might cause a hindrance in the process of development of the economy by causing mass unemployment. Thus, drones and laws regarding drones are new to this generation and it will still take a lot of time for them to become a major player that contribute to the development of a country.


[1]  Drone technology uses and applications for commercial, industrial and military drones in 2020 and the future by DIVYA JOSHI- https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/drone-technology-uses-and-applications-for commercial-industrial-and-military-drones-in-2020-and-the-future/articleshow/72874958.cms (last visited on 15th May 2020, 7:27 PM)

[2] https://www.cbinsights.com/research/drone-impact-society-uav/( last visited on 15th May 2020, 8:03 PM)

[3] Six Ways Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture byMichal Mazur, Pwchttps://www.technologyreview.com/2016/07/20/158748/six-ways-drones-are-revolutionizing-agriculture/

[4] Drones for waste management by NAVEEN JOSHI-  https://www.allerin.com/blog/drones-for-waste-management- (last visited on 16th May 2020, 1:33 PM)

[5] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/regulation-of-drones/comparative.php

[6] https://uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-india/

Ayushman Patnaik from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, New Delhi

You can find him here

editor: vatsala sood

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