Following the European Commission's recent announcement that it would harmonize legislation regarding unmanned drones, EE Times Europe caught up with Yannick Levy, Parrot's vice president of Corporate Business Development, who keeps a close eye on both professional and hobbyist drones.
There have been several lawsuits against hobbyist drone flyers, including a recent one in France where an 18-year-old boy from Nancy filmed a video of his hometown using a GoPro camera mounted onto a small drone.
Nans Thomas was eventually fined €400 for violating the DGAC's sky rules (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile) and endangering the lives of others, a fairly light sentence if you consider the maximum sentence could have been one year of imprisonment and a €15,000 fine (violating flying safety rules bears a maximum fine of €75,000, but this charge was not taken into account).
In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tried to fine an aerial photographer for "reckless flying," but the court found that the FAA had no authority over small unmanned aircraft when it imposed the first-ever such fine on a drone operator. In fact, the FAA has yet to come up with dedicated rules for lightweight drones (under 25 kilograms). In both cases, the general rule that would apply is that recreational drones should stay away from populated areas.
So how are these lawsuits affecting the hobbyist market, and what sort of new recommendations will drone manufacturers put forward to avoid a consumer backlash?
Drone Youtube videos posted by French manufacturer Parrot were showing a quadcopter drone remotely piloted via a tablet, hovering over the Parisian cityscape. That makes for an attractive proposition, but wasn’t it misleading? We asked Yannick Levy.
Parrot VP Yannick Levy
“The greatest impact that the Nancy case had for the drone industry was a clarification of French law with regards to drones, with numerous media trying to figure out and explain in simple terms what the DGAC regulations meant,” he told us.
“In fact, in its 2012 update of the sky regulations, the DGAC had already anticipated the use of drones for commercial activities, but it was not meant to affect the consumer and hobbyist market when the photos and videos are solely recorded for private purposes.”