The technology of unmanned aerial vehicles has become prevalent as a mass product as the prices for drone technology have continued to become more affordable in recent years. To date, numerous lucrative business ideas have developed around drones. In response, Europe-wide harmonization concerning drone law, therefore, apply as of December 31, 2020.
The fields of application for drones are diverse: Whether it be in the fields of science, communication, transportation, agriculture, or infrastructure or in the media and entertainment industry - drones are already shaping our everyday lives. Even regulatory authorities already use unmanned aerial vehicles that are not operated for sports or recreation purposes (as defined in the German Air Traffic Act).
In addition to the many opportunities that drones present, some safety risks also arise. Indeed, seemingly harmless photo and video drones may promptly be misused for criminal or terrorist purposes or infringe on the privacy of uninvolved persons. Moreover, if a drone crashes, it may result in injury and/or property damage. This can bring about high claims for damages, which is why the market for drone insurance continues to develop.
The drone regulation that came into force in 2017 in Germany has led to numerous amendments to the Air Traffic Act. In particular, the amendments address the labelling and permit requirements for drones, which vary depending on the weight of the drone or the flight altitude. This also included regulations for binding flight bans over residential properties, around government buildings or at airfields. For example, drones weighing less than 5kg may not be operated outside of one's visibility range.
As of December 31, 2020, the new EU drone law will apply. It is intended to coordinate drone regulations across Europe. As a result, two aspects become particularly relevant for manufacturers and pilots of drones:
- Drones are divided into five risk classes according to their hazard potential and are subject to requirements
- Three application scenarios are defined which stipulate requirements, such as the protection of personal rights of uninvolved third parties, that must also be observed
Manufacturers are responsible for the classification of drones. However, pilots must be aware of the risk class and the corresponding application scenario and observe the relevant requirements. These include, for example, an insurance obligation and the consideration of the privacy of third parties.
Increased demands are also being placed on manufacturers. Certain precautions must be met to minimize the safety risk of drones (e.g. low-speed mode, adjustable altitude limits, electronic ID) depending on their specific classification.
We advise founders, startups, and established companies on business ideas related to drones in Germany. In particular, we offer:
- Comprehensive advice for startups in the field of drone technology and market entry including intellectual property rights and data protection issues
- Advice for drone manufacturers with regard to permit and labelling requirements
- Advice on liability and insurance for drones
- Advice on operation prohibitions and liability in case of damage
- Information on labelling and permit requirements for drones
Our lawyers specializing in drone law are available to work with you to overcome any challenge that arises.
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