The U.K. government has announced that almost all drones will have to be registered under new rules to help regulate the growing use of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The announcement comes after Canada recently established new rules about where drones can fly and how far they can fly into the air or proximity to buildings, animals, crowds and more.
Drones that weigh 250 grams (0.5 pounds) and over will in the future be required to register details of their drones in order to improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly. Users can register online or through apps and a new drone safety awareness test has been created so that owners will have to prove they understand U.K. safety, security and privacy regulations, the government says.
The government plans to also expand the use of geo-fencing that acts like an invisible shield around buildings or sensitive areas. The technology, working with GPS coordinates, is built into drones and stops the machine from entering zones such as a prison or airport.
“Our measures prioritize protecting the public while maximizing the full potential of drones. 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,” said Lord Callanan, aviation minister inside the U.K. government. “But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones, introducing safety awareness tests to educate users we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”
Drones weighing only 400 grams could damage the windscreens of helicopters, but airlines windscreens were found to be much more resistant. A heavier drone, however, could cause critical damage to an airliner if it is flying at a high speed.
The government worked with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to establish six key principals for drone flight:
- Always keep your drone in sight
- Stay below 400 feet
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions every time a drone is in flight
- Keep the right distance from people and property
- Users are responsible for each flight
- Drones must stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields