DRONE : focus on an emerging technological innovation

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With the advancement of technological innovation, one area that is finding increasing interest, particularly because of the countless applications for use in every field, is drones.

The term drone, of Germanic origin (buzzing, male of the bee), is applied to all flying objects that do not have a human being on board and are operated by an on-board computer or enabled user who controls them remotely through a more or less sophisticated radio control. If we wanted to be more precise, we should call them UAS, meaning of “Unmanned Aircraft System,” as per the provisions contained in the European Regulation 2019/947 also adopted by ENAC, our National Civil Aviation Authority, which also maintains the definition of “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems”.

Their transversal diffusion, particularly in the last decade, has meant that they are used with unquestionable effectiveness in practically all sectors, from the industrial to the social to the military in which they have been developed since the early years of the last century.

It is now an increasingly common thing to make use of them in agriculture, in shipping (Amazon, DHL), in technological contexts through the monitoring of facilities (photovoltaic, wind, telecommunications, etc.), structures (viaducts, bridges, etc.), in weather forecasting, in cinematography and entertainment, in the management of natural disasters up to urban planning, health care and the space sphere (think of Ingenuity, the drone-helicopter carried by the Perseverance rover for the exploration of the planet Mars).

The emergence of this technology even for recreational purposes has had, as an effect, non-negligible criticalities with regard to air traffic and safety. In order to cope with accidents caused by drones, in almost all cases without serious consequences, it has become necessary to create, also within the European Union, the application of common standards transposed by member states aimed at unifying their use by issuing two regulations:

– the first one (EU REG 2019/947 of 24/05/2019), on “rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft” where contextually the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) is established with the task of collecting, analyzing and publishing safety information through an annual report, which is followed by;

– a second (EU REG 2022/425 of 14/03/2022), a corollary of the previous one.

In addition, the European Commission, in view of the emerging drone industry, established the “Drone Leaders Group” in September 2021, consisting of 26 members from leading aerospace companies as well as industry organizations and associations, with the aim of making Europe a world leader in the industry.

The group’s final report released on April 26 includes, in addition to a set of recommendations, concrete objectives in eight thematic areas of drone policy.

The report is intended to serve as a support for the European Commission’s “Drone Strategy 2.0” to be released by the end of 2022, which will help create synergies between the civilian, defense and space industries, encompassing an EU flagship project on drone technologies and aimed at achieving two main goals:

– becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050;

– further contribution to the digitization of the economy.

The European Commission also wants to strengthen the EU’s role as a geopolitical actor in line with what was already established in March 2022 following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with the clear goal of building a stronger and more capable EU in security and defense.

Carlo Caloisi

SOURCES AND IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS

  1. Meaning of the word “drone”: https://www.pix4d.com/blog/etymology-drone-photogrammetry ;
  2. ENAC (Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile) – regolamento sull’utilizzo dei droni: https://www.enac.gov.it/sites/default/files/allegati/2021-Gen/Regolamento_UAS-IT080121.pdf ;
  3. A Brief History of Drones: https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/a-brief-history-of-drones-the-remote-controlled-unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uavs ;
  4. 10 Major Application Areas of Drone: https://www.geospatialworld.net/blogs/10-major-application-areas-of-drone/?amp ;
  5. The future of drones: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/06/30/the-future-of-drones-outer-space-urban-landscapes-and-business-tasks/ ;
  6. List of UAV-related incidents: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UAV-related_incidents ;
  7. AESA (European Aviation Safety Agency) – Annual safety review 2022: https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/general-publications/annual-safety-review-2022 ;
  8. Regulation EU 2019/947: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32019R0947&from=EN ;
  9. Regulation EU 2022/425: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32022R0425&from=EN ;
  10. Drone Leaders’ Group supports preparation of Drone Strategy 2.0: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/news/drone-leaders-group-supports-preparation-drone-strategy-20-2022-05-02_en ;
  11. Report of the Drone Leaders’ Group 26th April 2022: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2022-05/Drone_Leaders_Group_Report_2022-04-26.pdf

IMAGES (in sequential order):

  1. https://unsplash.com/photos/hK7bhXJT-YA ;
  2. https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/it/view-image.php?image=221774&picture=drone-sulla-citta;
  3. https://www.pexels.com/it-it/foto/uomo-volando-innovazione-futuristico-8059126/