Right now you don’t have to register your new toy with the authorities if you buy a drone in the UK or US, though at one time a US database did exist, and a UK one is planned. The UN aviation agency the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) doesn’t like that state of affairs and wants to see a global registration system set up.
The idea is that these flying machines can cause serious damage to aircraft if they’re flown in the wrong place, and help commit a host of other crimes, and so law enforcement agencies need to know who owns which drone to police the skies.
A global database would make this monitoring easier and work better than different databases maintained by different countries according to the ICAO, though it doesn’t have the authority to force the nations of the world to sign up. It’s also not clear who exactly would be responsible for running such a database.
“[Drone makers] are worried that Europe might create one set of standards, United States might do a second and China might do a third,” says ICAO director Stephen Creamer. “And they’ve got to build a drone differently in these different environments.”
Having everyone’s names and drone serial numbers down in a big unified list would also make it easier for you to take your drone on holiday with you, if you wanted to get some overhead shots of your next vacation. For the time being this is just a recommendation though, and there’s no timescale in place.
Drone owners are unlikely to be enthusiastic about having to register their personal details in yet another database just to get their Unmanned Aerial Vehicles up in the sky, but with sales continuing to climb and safety issues continuing to hit the headlines, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before a registration system gets set up.