European liability directive should protect against drones with AI

The European Commission has introduced a directive to protect citizens and businesses against artificial intelligence (AI)-based products, such as advanced drones with AI.

Based on the AI ​​Liability Directive, it should become possible to sue manufacturers as soon as damage occurs in any way as a result of the application of AI.

Drones with AI (artificial intelligence)

AI is being used in more and more (consumer) products. Modern drones also make full use of AI. For example, to automatically follow a person or object during filming or to determine a route independently.

AI is also used, for example, to detect deviations automatically during inspections. With the help of advanced facial recognition, it is even possible to locate wanted persons in a crowd from the air automatically.

However, there are also risks in using AI. Think of a drone that collides with something because of the obstacle detection or an automatic flight planner misjudging a certain situation. It is annoying if a drone is lost, but downright problematic if someone is injured or consequential damage occurs.

It is also not ungrateful that certain AI image recognition applications can lead to an invasion of privacy. Think of the automatic collection of data about people without a legal basis for this. The automatic identification of individuals using AI-supported cameras, whether or not in combination with drones, is also extremely sensitive.

AI Liability Directive

To protect citizens and companies against the excesses of AI, the European Commission recently introduced the AI ​​Liability Directive. This is a legal guideline based on which victims can claim compensation from a manufacturer or developer if they experience damage to their property, health or privacy due to a certain AI application.

It must, however, be demonstrated that the damage is a direct result of using AI. To this end, the legislation provides for the presumption of causality. This means that the user only has to demonstrate that the supplier or manufacturer has not complied with European rules for the application of AI. A manufacturer or supplier can be required by a court to disclose information about the operation of their AI applications.

“The new rules give victims of damage caused by AI systems an equal opportunity and access to a fair trial,” said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. “If we want to have real consumer and user in the AI ​​application, we need to be sure that it is possible to have redress and access to justice when needed, without too many obstacles, such as the opacity of the systems.”


The AI ​​Liability Directive has yet to get the green light from all EU and EU legislators before it can become law. With the introduction of the AI ​​Liability Directive, the European Commission wants to ensure that the liability legislation introduced forty years ago can once again be kept up to date.

Cover image: Dronetto, CC BY-SA

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager
Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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