Using drones to capture up-to-date aerial imagery seems a great way to capture map data given the aged nature of the aerial imagery available to us. However the CAA regulations and insurance requirements in the UK provide a pretty insuperable obstacle for OSMUK with our limited means. Requisitioning commercial drone operations is definitely beyond our budget
However we don't want to give up and would like to form a Drones Working Group to explore how we can exploit this opportunity. Thanks to MapBox we now have a contact with a drone flightplanning company based in the UK, who are willing to provide some insight into the drone surveying market to aid our discussions.
I'm thinking we should use the upcoming map disruption caused by HS2 as a big use case and also to use new housing developments and other big civil engineering projects as smaller use cases. Once we have a better understanding of the drone surveying market works we could (off the top of my head here) apply for grant funding to commission our own commercial drone surveys; lobby public sector organisation who use drones to let us have their imagery as opendata; maybe even get drone companies to donate a couple of hours here and there especially if they become OSMUK corporate members because they "get" OSM; get drone survey customers to release their imagery say a year after they've used it (commercial value decreased and they should have got their value extracted form it)- maybe.
So if you have any knowledge or experience of drone surveying or have any contacts in the market and want to see the technology being used in the UK to benefit OSM then join our working group