The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment today launches its new inquiry into civil use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the EU.
From crop spraying to aerial photography, even to pizza delivery, the use of drones in civilian life is expanding rapidly. But this increased use 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 a House of Lords Committee will address as part of their new investigation into the use of civilian Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) - otherwise known as drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
The inquiry by the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment will centre mainly on the European Commission's work on specific areas relating to the civil use of drones. These are:
- EU-wide standards and rules on safety;
- Controls on personal privacy and data protection;
- Security controls to protect the drones themselves;
- Insurance and liability implications for drones; and
- Support for new industry and research and development.
The Committee is today issuing its call for evidence, aiming to gather a large quantity of expert written and oral evidence, before reporting in early March 2015.
Committee Chairman Baroness O'Cathain said:
"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 forty-fold between 2006 and 2013. No wonder that the RPAS industry has been described as one of the most dynamic aerospace markets of the 21st Century.
"However, 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.
"We feel this is the right time to look at this issue, and we welcome views from all quarters. I would encourage anyone with relevant expertise or experience to submit written evidence to us by 19 September in order to get their voice heard and help us in our deliberations."
Written evidence must be received by Friday 19 September 2014.
You can keep up-to-date with evidence sessions on the Committee's website and on the House of Lords Twitter feed by following #HLRPAS.