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ISO Releases Draft of First International Drone Standards for Public Comment

BY Zacc Dukowitz
30 November 2018

The International Standard Organization (ISO) recently shared their proposed International Standards for Drone Operations with the public.

The standards will be open for comment until January 21, 2019. After that period the ISO will review comments, make adjustments as needed, and release a final version of the Standards later in the year. It is anticipated that these standards will be adopted by the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere throughout the world.


Why Do We Need International Standards?

When you look at drone laws throughout the world there is still a lot of variation between countries.

Some countries, like the U.S., Canada, and several others, have fairly robust drone laws, while others have only a few. About a third of the countries in the world don’t have any drone laws at all, and there are some countries that ban drones altogether, in some cases because they simply don’t know how to deal with them. Even within the U.S., drone laws can vary widely from one state to the next, sometimes in direct contradiction with federal law.

To address all of this variation, the ISO’s international standards aim to establish rules that everyone can agree on, which will help normalize drone operations throughout the world.

These international standards will help create a global structure for what constitutes responsible drone use. In much the same way that the FAA’s Part 107 rules have helped foster the spread of commercial drone operations in the U.S., these international standards can potentially help drone adoption spread more quickly and responsibly throughout the world.

The Proposed Standards

The standards released by the ISO focus primarily on data security, air safety, privacy, and creating pathways to facilitate UAV implementation in a variety of commercial scenarios.

In creating the standards the ISO has drawn on existing flight rules and protocols. Three more documents will be added to the drafted standards in the future, which will cover general specifications for UAVs, manufacturing quality, and UTMs (Unmanned Traffic Management systems).

Air Safety

Air safety is one of the major areas of drone operations covered in the drafted international standards.

Included in the draft are proposed standards for flight log protocols, drone maintenance, no-fly zones, local regulations, and training and flight planning documentation.

The standards also emphasize the importance of social responsibility in drone operations, which we applaud. Although Counter UAS (CUAS) technology is developing rapidly, one of the most important things we can do to keep people safe from rogue drones is to continue fostering a culture of safety and responsibility throughout the drone industry, so that all drone pilots know when and how they should operate.

Privacy and Data Protection

As drone adoption has grown, concerns about personal privacy and the privacy of data have been pervasive.

The ISO’s drafted standards address these concerns head on, and include proposals for requiring drone pilots to operate systems that will protect their data, as well as requirements about keeping the hardware and software pilots use up to date.

Also included in the standards is the requirement that human intervention be maintained as the fail-safe for all drone operations, including autonomous operations, so that a person will always be present and accountable for drone flights, even as technology advances.


Next Steps

The creation of these standards represents a historic moment for the drone industry. Through the establishment of these standards and rules, we can hope to see drone adoption continue to spread around the globe, with safe and responsible practices spreading alongside that adoption.

The ISO’s international standards are currently open for comment, and they are encouraging drone professionals, businesses, academics, and the general public to chime in. To learn more about how to submit comments visit this page on the ISO’s website.

Have you read the standards? Do you plan to comment? Let us know in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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