PwC backs group promoting safe use of drones in UK

05 March 2019 3 min. read
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PwC has joined ARPAS-UK, a network in the UK promoting the safe usage of drones in UK skies. The move comes as the professional services firm continues to build its own reputation in the drone space across Europe.

Last year, research by PwC suggested that the ‘drone economy’ of the UK could add around £42 billion to GDP by 2030. The firm’s drone report outlined the huge potential productivity and cost savings that a fleet of some 76,000 drones in British skies could bring to the public and private sectors. While the technology has become increasingly familiar to businesses and citizens of the UK in recent years, however, the use of drones remains stranded in a legal grey area, meaning their uptake remains slow.

PwC has already been undertaking client work with drones globally, largely led out of a Centre of Excellence team in Poland. The Drone Powered Solutions team was formed in 2013, and now has a team of around 50, taking advantage of the more expansive drone regulation over Poland – the first country in the world to have introduced a complete legal framework and institutions regulating the commercial use of drones.

PwC backs group promoting safe use of drones in UK

Following the recent step by the British Government to announce an upcoming drone bill, UK regulations involving the use of drones in business will make ground on Polish law, opening up a space for greater commercial use in the country. As a result, PwC launched their drone offering in the UK as well, and at the start of 2019, the Big Four firm announced it had piloted the use of a drone for an audit of a client in the energy sector, in a global first for the company. The unmanned airborne vehicle reduced the amount of time it would take for energy giant RWE to take stock of its coal reserves by more than three hours.

Despite its lucrative prospects, drone technology remains controversial, not least because of its implications for privacy. In order to push for the safe and transparent use of drone technology in the UK skies of tomorrow, PwC has joined the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems UK (ARPAS-UK).

ARPAS-UK is a non-profit association formed in 2013 that represents the small drone industry in the UK and helps promote best practice amongst its members. It provides a unified voice for the drone sector, pushing for sustainable growth within the RPAS industry in the UK and ensuring that all operators are represented, both with the CAA and other stakeholders.

Commenting on the alliance, Elaine Whyte of the PwC said, “Our drone team at PwC UK has now been up and running for a year, helping clients take advantage of this emerging technology and extract value from drone data. In our Skies without Limits report we recognise that there is substantial opportunity in the drones market but this can only be achieved if we maintain and build trust. Having a professional body to represent the industry is an important layer of this trust and we are looking forward to working with ARPAS to support their mission to promote the safe use of drones.”

Graham Brown, CEO at ARPAS-UK, added, “The ARPAS committee has been working tirelessly this year to increase the influence and relationships with regulators, government departments such as DfT and BEIS, All Party Parliamentary Groups, industry trade associations and consultants. PwC has one of the leading drone consulting capabilities in the market and having them on board demonstrates the progress that ARPAS has made this year.”