Drone-owning Brits face clampdown as government moves to make skies safer

DJI Mavic Pro drone
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Drone owners in the United Kingdom are facing tougher controls on how they use their flying machines, and may have to sit for a safety-awareness test before they’re allowed to send it skyward.

The British government on Sunday announced a move toward implementing laws to give police more powers to prevent the unsafe or criminal use of the remotely controlled copters.

A new bill that could become law next year proposes that all drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) will have to be registered by their owner on a national database when they’re purchased.

The new law could give U.K. police the right to order operators to ground their drone where necessary. “Officers will also be able to seize drone parts to prove it has been used to commit an offense,” the Department for Transport said in its Sunday announcement.

Drone operators may also be required to use a designated app before they fly their drone to ensure their location is safe and legal for a flight. Such an app would go some way to tackling the growing problem of drone flights near, for example, airports. So far this year there have been 80 reports of drones buzzing U.K. airports, up from 55 for the same period a year earlier. In the summer, a drone caused major disruption at one of the country’s busiest airports, causing landings and take-offs to be halted twice in the space of an hour.

While the police can currently make use of existing legislation to combat some problematic drone use, a new set of rules specifically concerning drone technology — with new additions such as mandatory drone tests and registration — would give the police additional powers within a more organized framework of regulations.

Complaints in the U.K. regarding drone use reached 3,456 in 2016, nearly three times more than the number reported a year earlier.

They included neighbors complaining about people using drones to spy on them in their backyards, as well as more alarming incidents involving passenger jets. Criminals are also thought to be using drones to study properties ahead of a potential burglary, while others have been using them to fly contraband to prison inmates.

Like many countries around the world, the U.K. authorities are playing catch-up with drone technology, which has grown rapidly in popularity in the last couple of years. This Christmas is expected to be another bumper year for the likes of DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec, which all produce popular consumer drones.

Thinking of getting one yourself? DT has researched the top models, and we’ve also some ideas if you’re looking for a budget bird as your first flying machine.


Safety driver in Waymo autonomous car causes collision with biker

Safety drivers are supposed to take control of a self-driving car when a potentially dangerous situation occurs during road tests. But a recent takeover by a Waymo driver resulted in an accident with a motorcyclist.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
DT Daily

DT Daily: Alexa helps you vote, our new series ‘Behind the Wheel,’ and more

Today on DT Daily we covered all the newest headlines from Apple AirPods to the World Drone Racing Championship. We also chatted with Tim Walbridge, the host of our new video series Behind the Wheel, and a very special guest.

Uber wants to restart self-driving car tests in Pennsylvania

Uber is seeking to resume testing self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania following a fatal crash in Arizona that shut down on-road testing for months. Uber claims to have made safety improvements.

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Emerging Tech

‘Bionic mushroom’ can generate electricity without using fossil fuels

Researchers have come up with a way to produce electricity without fossil fuels using mushrooms covered with bacteria. The mushroom provides a safe environment for special cyanobacteria that generate electricity when light is shone on them.
Emerging Tech

Curiosity rover active and drilling again after computer issue

The Curiosity rover has succeeded in drilling a hole into the tough bedrock that previously defeated it, allowing imaging and collection of samples. The rover had been incapacitated for a few weeks due to problems with its computer.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover two rogue planets that do not orbit a star

Astronomers have identified two rogue planets in our galaxy which do not orbit around a star. Unlike the vast majority of discovered planets, these rogue planets drift through space alone with no sun to shine on them.
Emerging Tech

Pairs of supermassive black holes spotted in colliding galaxies

Astronomers have discovered several pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies that are colliding with each other. These black holes will spiral closer and closer together and eventually merge into one supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Quantum-based accelerometer can locate objects without GPS

Researchers have created a quantum "compass" that allows navigation without satellites. The instrument, technically called a standalone quantum accelerometer, is small enough to be transportable and has a very high level of accuracy.
Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.