If you own a drone in the UK you will soon be required to register it with the government as part of plans to “improve accountability” and encourage responsible use.
A statement about the new requirements released by the Department of Transport also detailed plans to make people sit drone safety awareness tests to prove they understand safety, security and privacy, before they are allowed to fly their device.
Aviation minister Lord Callanan said: “By registering drones, [and] introducing safety awareness tests to educate users we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public... our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones.”
In the last few years, there has been a spike in use of drones in Britain, and the authorities are increasingly concerned about the potential dangers they pose, and how they facilitate illegal activity, such as smuggling contraband into prison.
“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives. But like all technology, drones too can be misused,” said Lord Callanan.
So in order to regulate the technology, the government will be requiring anyone with a drone that weighs over 250 grams to provide their details via a website or app (options are still being explored).
A report from the Military Aviation Authority published today (Tuesday 25 July) deemed any drone over 400 grams, big enough to fatally damage the windscreens of helicopters.
Although it would take a heavier drone, of around 2 kilograms, to critically damage a commercial airliner windscreen flying at high speed.
The government stated that in an attempt to stop people using drones to supply prisoners, they hopes to be able to have geo-fencing technology, which works like an invisible shield around buildings or sensitive areas using GPS coordinates, built into future drone models.
This would mean they could stop drones from entering airspace above prisons or airports.
This step would take the 2016 government ‘Drone Code’ much further, as it currently has no way of prohibiting this behaviour, despite asking that users always keep the drone in sight, stay below 400 feet, keep the right distance from people and property and stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.