Sun, Feb 18, 2018 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: Experts lament barriers to UAV development

DRAWBACKS:Seeking government funding for drone development is difficult due to a limited budget, an expert said, while China is surging ahead with private investment

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

“Many people have an indescribable fear of unmanned vehicles,” partly because they are afraid of uncertainty or that drones might be detectors or weapons, he said.

Despite these problems, developing drone technology has become an irresistible trend across the globe, which has an estimated market value of up to US$127.3 billion, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in its 2016 report on the commercial applications of drone technology.

Asked how the government can foster the development of drone applications, Lin said that UAVs need proper regulation, but separate regulations for experimental drones are also needed.

Many experiments with drones have been undertaken in gray areas of the law, he said.

“Many aircraft lovers spend their own money conducting small-scale research and development, while big corporations are still looking on, waiting for the proper moment to enter the market,” said A3 Fun consultant Linder Lin, who also works as a pilot for China Airlines.

The nation’s current policies are unfavorable to the development of drones, with most of the research and development budget going to military agencies, he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies are taking giant leaps in manufacturing drones, he said.

“If Taiwanese cannot compete with others in technique, they can focus on exploring drone applications,” he said, urging the government to loosen aviation regulations to allow for more experiments.

On Feb. 7, the Ministry of Science and Technology said it had sent a draft bill on experimental drones to the Executive Yuan and expects it to be forwarded for review in the upcoming legislative session.

People who intend to conduct experiments using drones can file an application with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which would be responsible for granting approval and regulating their traffic, the draft bill said.

Applicants who have obtained approvals from the ministry would be exempt from the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法), the Highway Act (公路法), the Ships Act (船舶法) and the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) when conducting experiments, the bill said.

However, which ministry should be tasked with stimulating drone-related research and applications — instead of passively reviewing applications — and which government agency would help negotiate international arguments following the operation of self-driving aircraft and vessels are issues that still need to be addressed.

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