In an article just published on the Thales website, the case for the exciting future of the market for drones was laid out convincingly, and it deserves a wider hearing. Thales’s article responds to the recent publication of the House of Commons Science and Technology (S&T) Committee report on the commercial and recreational use of drones, which both ADS and Thales made a submission to. The parliamentary report quite rightly recognises the many exciting opportunities of drones, as well as the risks. As Thales says,

“Today, we stand at the threshold of a new revolution in aviation in which the UK will play a leading role – if we get it right.”

Commercial drones are already being used in a dizzyingly wide array of scenarios, from surveying construction sites to conducting search and rescue missions to medical delivery. However, as Thales mentions, it is not just the drones themselves that make up the market opportunity –

“There are also emerging services and technology to support the drone industry, including insurance, training, maintenance, consulting and support, plus all the supporting technology such as data analytics, data management, sensors and subsystems, flight planning and management, as well as counter-drone systems.”

For the UK to be at the forefront of the next revolution in aviation, it needs to be the home of exciting research and development in software, technology, communications and traffic management. It is for that reason that initiatives such as the Future Flight Challenge, experimental air corridors, and the new £65m Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) project are so exciting. As Thales mentions,

“DARTeC […] was formed to address a number of research challenge such as:

• the integration of drones into civilian airspace
• increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
• creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
• increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies”

These things will all need to be address if the UK is to be successful and a world-leader in the future drone market. DARTeC is a prime example of how effective collaboration between industry, academia and government is crucial to maintaining the UK’s edge in this highly competitive marketplace.

Ultimately the market for drones will only continue to grow. The question is, as Thales puts it,

“How do we make the journey from where we are today, to a dominant position in the global economy?”.

Drones offer enormous opportunities for our society and our national prosperity and it is therefore vital that the Government works closely with industry and academia to shape the UK’s response to future developments in drone technology, so that the UK can play that leading role in the market for drones.

Read the full article here on the future of drones from Thales.