3. Drone Loans Options Appraisal: the Opportunities

We undertook an initial technology-driven options appraisal for Essex Libraries, which we presented to them in the form of a detailed report, to inform

  • The Design of a Drone Skills Development, Pilot Licence and Loan Scheme;
  • The Selection of Drones for Deployment; and
  • The Development of a High Level Risk Assessment.

In a bid to summarise our Options Appraisal –

In Part A, we presented headline definitions and examples of drone types, the technologies upon which they rely, and an indication of associated legislation and regulatory frameworks. NB: the legal implications referenced below cannot substitute for a professional view of what needs to be considered in the course of taking any recommended Next Steps and are, therefore, intended as an introductory guide to provoke further discussion amongst interested parties. 

In Part B, we presented indicative next steps in the form of a commentary to inform the Project Concept we subsequently outlined but, more readily, to provoke further discussion amongst Essex Libraries colleagues. NB: we’re aware that our own commentary and deliberations amongst colleagues cannot in any way substitute for stakeholder engagement and user-led service design activity – hence, we included mention of both in our recommended Next Steps.


Part A – definitions, examples, technologies, legislation and regulatory frameworks

In Part A, we explored x3 types of drone – namely:

  1. land drones (Unmanned Ground Vehicles – UGVs –
  2. water-based drones (Remotely Operated Vehicles – ROVs – and
  3. aerial drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs / Remotely Piloted Aircraft System – RPAS –

Initial consideration of the technologies underpinning the x3 types of drone pointed toward the need to factor for legislation and regulatory frameworks including, but not limited to, provisions concerning:

  • Air Navigation / Civil Aviation
  • Codes of Practice for the Sale and Efficient Operation of Remotely Operated Vehicles
  • Customer Protection
  • Data Protection
  • Freedom of Information
  • Health and Safety
  • Highways
  • Human Rights
  • Surveillance (RIPA, 2000)
  • Trading Standards


Part B – Possible Next Steps

Our research pointed toward the scope for the following activity types in respect of any ‘drone loan’ Scheme Essex Libraries might move to develop:

Remote Control – operation of the unmanned vehicle
Pay Load Transport / Delivery
Competitions & Challenges

We explored the scope for each to appeal to young people and adults in respect of the x3 types of drone we had identified. We considered potential formats for different types of activities (for example, ‘Experience Days’, Competitions, Challenges, formal Skills Development Opportunities, loans and sales), and the partners with whom Essex Libraries might want to work in order to realise them in practice. We also presented some headline assumptions about the cost-benefits of different options. Ultimately, we concluded that Unmanned Aerial Vehicle making, modelling, programming, loans, sales and events represented the best offer Essex Libraries could develop and roll-out with partners, based upon our also having introduced the idea of ‘Drone Pilot Licenses’ and ‘Drone Zones’ in the course of undertaking Project Concept development work.

4. Drone Loans: Suggested Vision, Mission, Aims and Objectives

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