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New White Paper a boost for UK’s commercial drone industry

New White Paper a boost for UK’s commercial drone industry


13 Jul, 2020

A landmark White Paper, setting out a route for the government to accelerate the growth of the drone industry and transform the UK’s capability to achieve world leadership in drone technology, has been presented to the government following unanimous industry support during a three-month period of consultation.

The White Paper, titled ‘The commercialisation of the UK air drone industry’, has been developed by the Drone Delivery Group, the leading UK drone industry initiative, which brings together the first independent collaborative grouping of companies and organisations (more than 300) involved in all aspects of the drone industry (see box below for further details). It calls for the development of new testing grounds to deliver public safety, advance the industry, support the ambition of UK plc to become a global leader in drone technology and to provide a solution to the sector’s biggest challenge in making commercial drone flights an exciting reality in UK skies.

The transformative impact of drone technology is set to be a game-changer for the global economy, with Barclays recently predicting that the global drone market is set to grow ten-fold in the next five years alone, reaching an estimated value of £30 billion, with a potential £77 billion in savings. The report highlights that the UK now has a window of opportunity to seize a leading role in reaping the potential of this cutting-edge technology.

This long-awaited White Paper, developed over the course of years, followed by a thorough public consultation process, addresses the vital need for a safe infrastructure where drones can operate safely in airspace potentially shared with other manned or unmanned aircraft. This includes testing sites for drones considered essential in enabling the commercial value of the industry to be realised. It states that ‘a national approach is urgently needed’ in order to ensure that this ‘vital foundation for the drone industry’ is established quickly.

FACTFILE: White Paper highlights

  • First ever independent collaboration of (300-plus) drone industry stakeholders show the way to accelerated growth for the drone industry and UK economy
  • Landmark White Paper sets out route to government
  • Transformative drone technology is set to be game-changer for global economy
  • Focus on effectiveness and public safety
  • Call for safe environments to test advanced new applications and to fast-track development of drone technology
  • Test and development sites throughout UK essential to success
  • Benefits to business, local communities and quality of life
  • Safe and secure commercial drone flights set to become a reality in the UK
  • Acceleration of drone industry will provide economic growth, jobs and career opportunities now, and for generations to come

Says Robert Garbett, Chairman of the UK Drone Delivery Group, ‘The presentation of this White Paper to the government is a huge milestone for the progress of the UK drone industry. The industry guidance is clear, and the potential benefits are vast … Drone technology will transform our immediate and long-term future … [it is] a positive game-changer for the global economy, with benefits for business, local communities and our quality of life.

‘Our guidance to government, outlined in the White Paper, urges the creation of testing sites throughout the UK, a process that we in the Drone Delivery Group have already started, with considerable interest, particularly from airports and large landowners.

‘The government has been very supportive of the drone industry and it recognises that the speed of growth of this extraordinary sector will be guaranteed if we focus on the testing of its effectiveness and public safety, as outlined in our White Paper. This acceleration of the drone industry will provide economic growth, jobs and career opportunities now, and for generations to come. Implementing the guidance recommended in the Drone Delivery Group’s White Paper is paramount to ensuring the UK grasps the outstanding opportunity for this industry’s future growth. The USA, China and Japan have already started to embrace the need for testing infrastructure but have yet to evolve to a model that will accelerate the commercialisation of the industry. It is essential we act now.’

Click here to read the White Paper in full.

If you are interested in participating in the UK Drone Delivery Group’s drone testing ground initiative, click here to find out more.

About the Drone Delivery Group

Formed in November 2018, the Drone Delivery Group is a not for profit industry initiative involving more than 300 senior UK drone industry members and a growing number of international observers. The aim of the Group is to arrive at a UK industry-supported solution to facilitate rapid growth of the UK drone industry, potentially to a world0-leading position. The Group was founded with the goal of establishing an open channel of communication between stakeholders within the drone industry (manufacturers, operators and investors) and government, standards bodies and regulatory organisations. It aims to provide a solution to challenges to the industry, including beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and UAS Traffic Management (UTM), which can be presented to the government to evolve UK airspace management. The solutions will provide a necessary framework that the government can confidently support, ultimately enabling the safe and secure commercialisation of drone flights to become a reality in the UK.

Robert Garbett

Robert Garbett is Chairman of the UK Drone Delivery Group, and founder of Drone Major Group Limited, the world’s first global drone consultancy dedicated to advising companies and organisations on what can be achieved through the use of autonomous and remotely controlled systems (drones) in their operations across all environments (surface, underwater, air and space). He is Chairman of the British Standards Institution (BSI) Committee responsible for the development of drone standards in the UK and leads the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Working Group, developing the standards for the operation of unmanned air systems (UAS), both passenger and non-passenger carrying. He is the only authority to be advising on standards in Britain, Europe and worldwide; a leading consultant within the global drone industry and an advocate on the potential of drone technology to transform businesses and economies.

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