Skip to Content
Tech policy

The first worldwide drone standards have been unveiled to keep aircraft safe

November 22, 2018

The first ever set of global standards for drones has been launched today, designed to keep aircraft safe and to make sure operators are held accountable.

What’s happened: The  International Organization for Standardization (IOS) has released a draft set of standards for drone operations for public consultation, open until January 21, 2019. The standards are expected to be adopted worldwide later next year.

What does the document say? There’s little to disagree with here. The standards call for “no-fly zones” to ensure sufficient distance from airports or sensitive locations. The document suggests geo-fencing technology to stop flights in restricted areas. It also says there should be flight logging, training, and maintenance requirements. There are rules to ensure that operators respect privacy and data protection. Crucially, it also says a fail-safe means of human intervention is mandatory for all drone flights, establishing accountability for drone operators.

Why is it needed? Agreeing to a consistent set of industry regulations should encourage more organizations to adopt drone technology, thanks to stronger assurances on safety and security. In the Financial Times today, the head of the UK’s air safety board said that half of air traffic incidents now involve drones. Alastair Muir of NATS, the British air traffic control service, called for more technology to combat the threat. Better standards should help, too.

What’s next: These standards are the first of four sets covering aerial drones, with the next three set to dig deeper into technical specifications, manufacturing quality, and traffic management.

 

Deep Dive

Tech policy

How conservative Facebook groups are changing what books children read in school

Parents are gathering online to review books and lobby schools to ban them, often on the basis of sexual content.

Why can’t tech fix its gender problem?

A new generation of tech activists, organizers, and whistleblowers, most of whom are female, non-white, gender-diverse, or queer, may finally bring change.

How the idea of a “transgender contagion” went viral—and caused untold harm

A single paper on the notion that gender dysphoria can spread among young people helped galvanize an anti-trans movement.

The world is moving closer to a new cold war fought with authoritarian tech

At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, Iran, Turkey, and Myanmar promised tighter trade relationships with Russia and China.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.