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LONDON: May 29, 2018. Research by PwC suggests the adoption of drone technology could increase UK GDP by £42 billion by 2030, including £1.2 billion from the transport and logistics sector.

PwC analysis also reveals that by increasing productivity, the use of drone technology “has the potential to save the UK up to £16 billion in net cost savings by 2030, with the transport and logistics sector set to benefit by £2.8 billion”.

The conclusions coincide with data from the UK Office for National Statistics that shows Brexit Britain lags behind 19 other EU countries with GDP growth of 0.1 percent for Q1 2018. France is able to produce in four days what it takes the UK to do in five.

Britain’s head of HM Revenue and Customs Jon Thompson told the UK Parliament in May that British companies would face £20 billion a year in extra costs if Theresa May insisted on Britain leaving the EU Customs Union.

His warning was echoed by Eurotunnel that said last week the alternative Customs proposals put forward by Cabinet members Boris Johnson and Michael Gove would lead to serious economic costs for UK businesses and consumers.

ZIPLINEElaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC commented: “Drones have the potential to offer a powerful new perspective for businesses across a variety of industries, delivering both productivity benefits and increased value from the data they collect.

“The UK has the opportunity to be at the leading edge of exploiting this emerging technology, and now is the time for investments to be made in developing the use cases and trial projects needed to kickstart our drone industry.”

Ms Whyte said she welcomed government steps to address the need for current UK drone regulation in order to make PwC estimates of 76,233 drones in use by 2030, including 11,000 by the logistics sector, a reality. The company arrived at this number by using its own and European Union forecasts to apportion them to the size of the current, not post-Brexit, UK economy.

PwC defines drones as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), made up of a ground-based operator, the drone itself, and a communications system linking the two.

According to Robert Garbett, CEO of the commercial drone advocate organisation Drone Major Group, hybrid drone systems can now operate across different environments from ground vehicles that can fly, to aircraft that can dive into the sea to monitor and inspect underwater installations and then become airborne again.

“It is the emergence of such concepts and the advancement of autonomous systems across all environments that has led to the emergence of a new definition for a 'drone' incorporating 'any vehicle, ship, aircraft or hybrid system which is autonomously or remotely controlled’.

“When we consider the drone industry from this perspective, the impact on the UK economy, jobs, productivity and quality of life takes on a whole new meaning and a much larger figure,” Garbett claimed.

Pictured: Zipline has launched the “fastest commercial delivery drone on earth” capable of flying at 120 kilometres an hour with a roundtrip range of 160 kilometres carrying 1.75 kilos of cargo. With the support of UPS, Zipline has been operating the world’s first medical delivery network in Rwanda since 2016. The company is now working with US state governments to launch its medical drone delivery system by the end of 2018 as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program.

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