Switzerland, home of drones

Switzerland showcased its advanced drone ecosystem at the VivaTech innovation fair held in Paris last week. But how did the Alpine country become a leading global innovation and technology hub in the field of drones?

A senseFly drone and the Matterhorn in the background
Future-oriented and tech-savvy, Switzerland is an ideal breeding ground for drone-related projects. © senseFly
  1. Pioneering role in drone traffic management
    With the support of the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, Swiss air navigation service provider skyguide and AirMap are developing the first drone traffic management system in Europe. Phase-in will begin in June 2018.
  2. Drone-friendly regulations
    The Swiss regulatory authorities are innovation-friendly, progressive and pragmatic. For example, companies have been granted anytime/anywhere BVLOS authorizations and are currently flying BVLOS missions in Switzerland.
  3. Possibility to test-fly drones throughout Switzerland
    Companies can try out their innovations right at their doorstep: on the outskirts of cities, in innovation parks, and on military and civilian airfields.
  4. World-class education and research
    Among the best universities worldwide in the field of engineering and technology, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Zurich (ETH) and the University of Zurich are at the forefront of flying robotics and unmanned systems. Renowned for their practical orientation, the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences are very strong in training engineers.
  5. Unrivalled expertise in robotics and microsystems
    Inspired by its centuries-long watchmaking heritage, Switzerland has developed unique know-how in the fields of precision mechanics, microelectronics, and robotics. The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) is specialized in microsystems design, process, integration and packaging, as well as nanosurface and biosurface engineering.
  6. Successful peer companies
    Switzerland is home to a thriving community of drone-related companies, from established manufacturers to component suppliers, high-end application providers, and innovative start-ups.
  7. Close ties between research and industry
    The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics brings together leading experts from EPFL, ETH, University of Zurich, Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research, and the University of Bern. It supports start-ups and SMEs, encourages entrepreneurship and promotes spin-off creation in the field of robotics.
  8. Sizeable pool of expert technologists
    Tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Disney, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have chosen Switzerland for their R&D locations because of the high availability of engineers and other specialists.
  9. Birthplace of PX4 (Pixhawk)
    The open source software developed at ETH Zurich has become the gold standard for drone control. The core of a global community of around 400 active developers is located in Switzerland.
  10. A one-stop shop for drone operators
    DronePole will be the most advanced research, test, and certification center for autonomous flying vehicles when it opens its doors in 2019.
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