Unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones, are democratizing the sky and enabling new participants in aviation. Drones already have the ability to increase crop yields, make dangerous jobs safer and act as a lifeline for remote populations. Autonomously piloted systems have the potential to revolutionize how people and goods are transported and to support entirely new and disbursed economic society.
Although drones have the potential to transform business models and tackle societal challenges around the globe, governments are struggling to find ways to encourage innovation while maintaining public safety and confidence. Large companies, as well as a growing start-up ecosystem, are hindered in their ability to invest and expand. Enabling millions of manned and unmanned aircraft to fly concurrently will also require new types of airspace management, physical infrastructure, and privacy and data ownership policies. Laying the right policy foundation and platforms for industry cooperation today, both through smart government regulation and industry-driven standards, will accelerate the adoption of new use cases and business models once the enabling technology and infrastructure is mature.
One of the most impactful use cases for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), is the transport of essential goods in a more rapid, efficient or less expensive manner than ground transport. Pilot projects led by the Aerospace and Drones Team, at the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, within the Future of Mobility Platform have already benefited the ecosystem of autonomous flight around the world. A first of its kind, Performances Based Regulations (PBR) were published in Rwanda testing the theory that be promoting a risk focused method to evaluating operations, new and important use cases can emerge.
Building from the successful demonstration of PBR in Rwanda, the Aerospace and Drones team is leveraging its Global Network of Centres for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to scale these theories and enable local economies to begin integrating drones. The Medicine from the Sky Project, led out of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India, seeks to enable Indian States to integrate drones for medical delivery into their supply chain.
Lastly, work led out of our San Francisco office, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles, focuses on the future of low altitude aviation, often referred to as Urban Aerial Mobility (UAM). UAM presents a unique opportunity to rethink the inclusivity, accessibility, and safety often lacking with urban and sub-regional flight. The team is now looking for international public partners to accelerate this policy making process.