A report on the use of drones - published this morning (Tuesday, March 25) by the Westminster Defence Committee - says the machines could be used for a variety of domestic purposes if regulations were relaxed.
The document, which considers remotely piloted aircraft as “a key military capability for the future” says the aerospace and defence industry envisage myriad usage of drones in future.
These include: “Security – through the increased use of airborne surveillance systems at events and dangerous situations; Search and Rescue – to eventually replace manned services where more efficient; Agriculture – the monitoring of crops; Telecommunications – creating temporary communications links in emergency situations or at every day events; Conservation – to track endangered species and changes to wildlife habitats; Energy – the monitoring of overhead power-lines and Nuclear PowerStation construction; Construction – to inform architects and project managers of progress and for the lifting of materials; and Logistics – for movement and delivery.”
Other potential non-military uses listed by the Committee are: “Oil and gas – exploration, installation and pipeline monitoring; Airport security; Border security; and Humanitarian and disaster relief.”
The report, however, points to legal constraints governing the use of drones domestically.
It states: “There are many constraints on the use of remotely piloted air systems in shared airspace whether in the UK or elsewhere. In its response to this report we invite the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to set out in detail what action the Government as a whole is taking domestically and internationally to facilitate the development of the technologies, systems and regulatory changes which will be required prior to the full and safe integration of remotely piloted air systems into shared airspace.”
Last year the Sentinel revealed that drones were being used in Northern Ireland to monitor larch trees but could also be used in future to snoop on fraudulent farmers claiming too much in EU farm payments.