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A living lab on regulating the testing of drone technology

The main goal of the conference is to raise European and national policymakers’ awareness and knowledge levels regarding the development of unmanned systems. In particular, we aim to discuss the early phase of technology development by discussing the case of the example of Space53.

The technology development requires joint innovation and testing before a widespread implementation and operation of new unmanned systems and use-cases, and a lack of regulation is disturbing and delaying this important phase in Europe.

The economic opportunities of technological development of drones are well reported and understood by both the industry and national and European policymakers. The outlook provided by the SESAR Study are very promising. Still, Europe needs to increase its pace to keep up with developments in other regions like China and North America. The prospect of harmonized regulations across Europe in 2019 is a step in the right direction.


".... a lack of regulation is disturbing and delaying this important phase in Europe."

In 2015, EASA published a Technological Opinion, which includes 27 proposals for a regulatory framework for all unmanned aircraft. While it marked the beginning of the development of EU regulation on UAV operations, it also illustrates the lack of attention for a crucial phase in economic development: testing newly developed unmanned systems. The Notice of Proposed Amendment 2017-051, which is currently out for consultation, does not address this issue in detail. Although everybody agrees that drones should conform to the same standards, it remains unclear how the process is to decide how such standards should look like. We call this 'the missing link'.


Meanwhile, the Member States have developed a range of varying national frameworks, which may or may not address this missing link. The result is a patchwork of regulations regarding testing of new UAV technologies, which not only gives way to unfair competition between Member States, it also hinders the economic development of drone technology. This will be demonstrated by presenting the Space53 test location and UTM system that is being developed here. By focusing on this particular case, we aim to give policymakers an insight in what can be done vs. what is needed to fulfill unmanned ambitions.


The conference will help to set a European strategy regarding harmonized regulation on the testing of new drone technologies.

The missing link: Regulating the Development of Unmanned Systems

Shaping the future with technology

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