With the commercial and domestic use of drones now taking off, government bodies and regulators are watching the situation unfold closely. Vodafone's new research offers practical insights into how to approach the new technology
For many years unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or, as they’re more commonly known, drones, were an exclusive technology to governments and military outfits. But today, commercial and domestic drone use is booming.
The key task for regulators is to find a healthy balance between making sure the future capabilities of drones are realised, and ensuring public safety and privacy is unaffected.
As drones are, relatively speaking, a very new technology – and one without any real predecessors – the issue for governments is that there is no existing legal framework to work by as they enforce laws for drone-users. This, combined with the fact that drones are, by their nature, a very difficult technology to regulate, has left governments struggling to control how they are used.
Drone Traffic Control Centres (DTCC) present a feasible solution to regulatory issues. Currently at concept stage, these are bases committed to upholding drone law and safety through the monitoring and tracking of devices. In collaboration with regulatory bodies, telcos are able to supply and manage the technical services required for a DTCC to operate, such as data storage, connectivity, cybersecurity and real-time air traffic information.
Drone proximity to restricted areas such as airports and prisons, the use of unregistered drones, these are issues that can both be far better managed with drone traffic control. For example, ‘geo-fencing’ can be put in place to restrict drone access to certain areas, and report on activity that doesn’t abide with the laws that concern altitude, flight times or the privacy of third parties.
Further still, drone regulation would be a much smaller task if consumer drones were required to insert and register a SIM card, similar to their use in the mobile market. In addition to helping drones avoid no-go areas, a mobile network could also be used to enable drone to drone communication, which would prevent mid-air collisions and the human-safety concerns that come with their threat.
Going into tomorrow with a healthy balance
Drones are making a real impact on a number of industries, and quietly transforming the enterprise as we know it. However, the current rapid rate of adoption will inevitably bring with it technical, social and legal challenges.
Telecoms operators are very well placed to offer services and solutions that will address the challenges that come with drones and enable the benefits of the technology to be realised safely and securely, while also helping businesses to diversify and explore new revenue streams.
Download Vodafone's report 'The rise of drones' here
Or read their white paper - 'The Future of Public Sector Connectivity' here.