Responsible development & use of drones
The rapid expansion of drone technology makes it important to develop a toolkit that connects ethical and societal analysis within the design and testing phase of new drone technologies.
The tools can be used (a) to anticipate how a drone might have an impact on individual users, social practices, and societal processes; (b) to analyse the ethical and legal dimensions of these impacts. These will enable drone designers to include ethical and legal reflections in their work, and policy makers to develop adequate regulative frameworks. To develop the toolkit, the researchers will closely interact with actual practices of drone development, testing, and use.
A major finding at the start of the project was that the legal definition of drones is not settled and relevant types of rules vary from ‘negligence per se regulation’ to more general, non-drone specific rules. The project team is towards a tool for a precautionary drone impact assessment. To enhance the use of the project results, consortium members collaborate in the national public-private initiative “Space 53”, a location for testing, training and developing unmanned systems. It opened on 26 September 2016.
The researchers also participate in meetings concerning drone policies of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.
In public discussions military drones play a dominating role, but there are many other types of drones. In September 2016, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment sent a “progress letter” on her drone policy to Parliament. The rapid expansion of non-military applications of drones gives rise to urgent ethical and legal questions. Drones for surveillance and crowd control, for instance, raise issues of privacy, chilling effects and liability. Drones for (parcel) transport, earth observation and remote sensing raise issues of environmental nuisance and public safety. One of the specific concerns addressed in this project is the combined use of manned and unmanned flights at smaller airports as a possible solution for a lack of sufficient air traffic control.
In order to develop suitable tools the researchers combine various disciplines and approaches. Ethical analysis is used to get more insight in the values at stake in the development and deployment of drones. To get more insight into the extent to which specific drone technologies are at odds or in line with those values, the researchers apply an approach from philosophy of technology that is known as ‘technical mediation.’ In this approach close attention is paid to how technologies co-shape people’s perception of the world and what sorts of actions are possible for them. Finally, a ‘value sensitive design’ approach is used to help designers to pro-actively take relevant values into account during their work of developing new drone technologies.
The researchers also make a comparison of the legislative arrangements regarding drone development and deployment that exist in several countries - including the Netherlands, Germany, China, and the USA.
drone design, privacy, unmanned flights, rules for drones, rules for drones, impact assessment, safety, surveillance, precautionary approach, risk assessment, public acceptanceOfficial project title: