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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Update

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Industry Update

PwC report says Unmanned Aerial Vehicles could add £42bn to UK GDP by 2030


UK GDP could benefit to the tune of £42bn by 2030 thanks to UAV technology.

This 2% GDP uplift is the key finding of a new research report published by PwC.

The report calculates that there will be more than 76,000 drones in use across UK skies by 2030 and many will be utilised by the public sector in areas such as defence, health and education.

What’s more, although there are significant opportunities for economic gains across all sectors, the GDP uplift generated by drones is forecast to have the largest impact on the wholesale and retail trade sector with an increase of 2.5%, amounting to around £7.7bn.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), commonly known as drones, are made up of a ground-based operator, the vehicle itself and a communications system linking the two.

The report finds that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles technology could help the UK achieve up to £16bn in net cost savings by 2030 through increased productivity. The technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector stands to save the most by using UAVs, with a potential net saving of £4.8bn by 2030.

Across the UK PwC estimates there will be 628,000 people working in the UAV economy by 2030. New types of jobs to develop, build, operate and regulate UAVs will be needed, as changes in productivity and consumer demand resulting from drone usage create jobs.

Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, commented: “Drones have the potential to offer a powerful new perspective for businesses across a variety of industries, delivering both productivity benefits and increased value from the data they collect. The UK has the opportunity to be at the leading edge of exploiting this emerging technology, and now is the time for investments to be made in developing the use cases and trial projects needed to kickstart our drone industry.

“I envisage that the advantages of drone technology will be well established within the decade – not only for business purposes, but also for helping to protect our society, for example, through being used by the emergency services. There is a need for current UK drone regulation to advance to see the estimations in our report become a reality, but it’s positive to see the Government already taking proactive steps to address this with the draft Drones Bill.

“In order to realise the full potential from drones, the immediate focus must be on developing society’s confidence in the technology to help drive acceptance and increase adoption. While drones are often currently viewed as more of a toy, by combining this emerging technology with the right business understanding and human insight there is a huge opportunity to help solve some of business and society’s most important problems.”

Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister said: “PwC’s research demonstrates the significant economic benefits that drone technology can bring to the UK.

And they are already improving people’s lives – helping the emergency services and keeping key national infrastructure like rail lines and power stations safe.

“Excitingly this is just the beginning, which is why Government is doing everything possible to harness the huge future potential through our Industrial Strategy and Drones Bill.”

Jonathan Gillham, economics director at PwC, added: “Drones could spark significant improvements in the UK economy. The rise in GDP and job creation from drones uptake are expected to be substantial, but productivity is likely to see the greatest gains.”

US Commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Tests Get The Go Ahead

The US authorities are to allow certain UAV applications to be tested in its airspace.

These includes UAVs which can deliver defibrillators and monitor crops. Tests will be carried out via ten commercial UAV projects which have been specially selected. The ten were chosen from 149 proposals put forward. Each project will run for between two and three years, and be evaluated by he organisers and the FAA.

The projects include:

  • delivery of medical supplies via UAVs – The City of Reno, Nevada, with Flirty;
  • security UAVs for airports – Memphis County Airport and FedEx;
  • UAVs helping to control mosquito populations – government agency in Florida;
  • UAVs delivering food fast food – in North Carolina;
  • UAV out-of-sight test flights – the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma with CNN.

A number of high profile companies are involved in the projects as partners, but those close to the study said that a proposal from Amazon to conduct deliveries via UAVs was not accepted.

It’s reckoned that some 90,000 UAV pilots are registered with the FAA and strict rules are in place to prevent misuse. For example, you need a permit to fly a UAV, night-time flying is prohibited and beyond line-ofsight flight is also forbidden. A specific programme is in place to help public safety. Called the The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Integration Pilot Program, it focuses on how to integrate UAVs into the country’s airspace.

UK Users Face Restrictions

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle users in the UK also face possible restrictions on the use of their UAVs.

Legislation was recently introduced to the House of Commons which recommends that users have to pass online safety tests and that UAVs should not be flown within 1km of an airport boundary. Also, that those people who own drones over 250g will have to register them with the Civil Aviation Authority and that none will be allowed to fly above 121.9m.

The proposals are the result of a number of near-misses between UAVs and aircraft.

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