2.4 TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DRONES SUPPORTING GREEN GROWTH Although the drone and camera technology is continuously innovating (in particular endurance and autonomy are currently focus areas of development efforts), the extent to which drones will be disruptive will depend on the capabilities to transform collected data into meaningful information for users such as farmers, contractors, buyers, suppliers (seeds, agro-chemicals, machines), and governments. Two components need further development to support an effective use of dronecollected data: 1)
Method development and large-scale datasets for training and testing of machinelearning algorithms to transform measured data into relevant, timely and spatial-explicit crop management information; Organisation of large-scale data infrastructures for big data coming from drones to connect users, drone service providers and agronomic specialists for timely delivery of crop management information;
Furthermore, the following requirements support a faster and deeper penetration of drones and their capabilities in agriculture: 3) 4) 5)
Dissemination of remote sensing best practices for deriving high-quality sensor data; Developing agronomic knowledge to transform drone-based sensor data to relevant information usable for growers (also in the form of task maps/alerting services etc.); Better cooperation of a broad range of disciplines (inter or trans-disciplinary) is required among drone and sensor/optics engineers, remote sensing, agronomists, ICT system architects etc.; and Create spillovers and learn from other application fields which employ drones (e.g., military, logistics) and transform that to support agriculture.
2.5 LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DRONES SUPPORTING GREEN GROWTH The legislation to operate drones is currently a major barrier for rapid growth. While technology enables autonomous systems, current regulations require a pilot that has his eyes directly (or indirectly via an observer) on the drone. The requirement for a pilot for flying drones (in this domain not unintendedly referred to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) originates from the airspace regulations intended for transport safety. The role of the pilot is crucial in those regulations. Globally, flying drones (except for recreational purposes) requires pilot licenses, airworthiness certificates and operations manuals. In case of the introduction of drones in airspace, initially national aviation authorities have formulated national specific regulations which often included a ban on the professional use of drones (e.g., the Federal Aviation Administration in USA). Concomitantly, the Convention on International Civil Aviation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is aiming at harmonising the airspace regulations at the international level. However, this process will take several years to complete. In Europe, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) is the competent authority for drones with a weight of more than 150 kg (maximum take-off weight). Smaller drones are regulated by national authorities. This creates a very fragmented regulatory framework. The European Commission (EC) has now tasked EASA to develop a set of European rules for drones. This will create common safety regulations for the European Union (EU). The EC has asked for a regulatory approach that becomes proportionate to the risks they aim to address. This could imply that drone use for agricultural applications could be subject to adjusted (read: relaxed)