This is the fourth article in our five part series covering UK and EU drone regulation. You can read Part 1 (introduction) here, Part 2 (UK regulation) here, Part 3 (EU regulation introduction) here and Part 5 (EU requirements) here.
The EU Regulations classify drones as categories C0, C1, C2, C3 or C4 according to their weight or the amount of energy released on impact. There are various manufacturing requirements including around labelling, maximum speeds, sound levels, lighting and safety features for each category. In short, drones will be tightly regulated.
Drones in the open category must be designed and manufactured in accordance with specific rules. For example, drones which weigh less than 250g (class C0) must for example:
The next class up of open category drones (C1) must weigh less than 900g or where, in the event of an impact at terminal velocity with a human head, less than 80 J of energy is transmitted to the head. Either way, such a drone falling out of the sky onto someone's head would be likely to cause a serious injury or possibly kill them. In addition to the requirements for class C0 drones, C1 drones must, for example:
Further, C1 drones must have a direct remote identification that allows the upload of the drone operator's registration number, and be capable of broadcasting, in real time during the flight, data that includes:
Finally, C1 drones must be equipped with a geo-awareness system that provides:
As the drones in the classes get heavier and more capable, the safety requirements generally increase. The other open category classes are:
Manufacturers must, amongst many other things, put their name and email and postal address on the drone or its packaging and, when appropriate, keep a register of non-conforming products and product recalls. There are also obligations on importers and distributors.