Switzerland Is Developing a System to Track Drones All Over the Country

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Drone Country

Residents of Switzerland should be prepared to see more drones in the sky, as the country begins to move forward with plans to integrated unmanned drones into their air traffic management systems. The system will track drones and register operators in order to make airspace safer for the tiny vehicles.

Ars Technica reports that Skyguide, a Swiss air traffic control operator, is partnering with AirMap, maker of one of the leading global airspace management platforms for drones. In June, Skyguide will begin migrating its data and air traffic management applications to AirMap’s airspace mapping platform, AirMap UTM.

The effort is a smaller part of a larger initiative known as U-Space, which aims to promote safe and secure access to European airspace for millions of drones and their operators. Alongside the partnership between Skyguide and AirMap, the U-Space first phase will include the development of services that will register and ID drones and operators, as well as implement geofencing restrictions — meaning the airspace around and above specific buildings and locations will be inaccessible to drones.

“With Swiss U-space, Switzerland aims to safely open the skies for drone commerce,” said Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap, in a press statement. “We’re proud to work with Skyguide to bring AirMap UTM to Switzerland and make it possible for more pilots, more drones, and more missions to take flight in Europe.”

Incorporating drones into new business models is also one of U-Space’s goals, but an effective management system is required first.

The completed air traffic management system will be the first phase in the national rollout of U-Space. This system has been compared to the United States’ NASA-designed Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management, which is also meant to enable the use of low-altitude airspace, be it for drones or other small aircraft like flying cars.

Bring Out the Drones

Since it’s still a long way from being fully implemented and accounting for every drone in Switzerland, Ars Technica writes the system is essentially being used for “automated flight authorization and cataloging for drones” right now.

The rest of U-Space is scheduled to roll out in four phases between 2018 and 2021. Phase 2 will implement flight planning, flight approval, and tracking, among other things. Phases 3 and 4 will add more complex flight operations like “assistance for conflict detection” and improved autonomy for both drones and the U-Space management system.

It’s unclear how many drones and operators will participate in U-Space, though. According to Ars Technica, many drone operators in Switzerland are hobbyists, and as such, may ignore U-Space’s developments. There’s also concerns about the potential increase in cost and regulation if drone flights are commercialized, which could phase out those same hobbyists.

If Switzerland is capable of implementing such a system over its nearly 16,000 square miles of territory, that could help initiate safer use of drones all over the world. After all, as more drones are recruited for various purposes, it’s clear they’ll soon become an integral part of society.

The post Switzerland Is Developing a System to Track Drones All Over the Country appeared first on Futurism.


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Apple Maps Lane Guidance Expands to Austria, South Africa, and Switzerland

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In iOS 11, Apple Maps gained a new lane guidance feature, which is designed to let Maps users know which lane they should be in to avoid missing a sudden turn or an exit.

The feature was initially limited to the United States and China, but since the release of iOS 11, Apple has been working to expand it. As of this week, Apple has made lane guidance features available in Austria, South Africa, and Switzerland.

With the addition of these three countries, lane guidance features are available in a total of 14 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States.

Other iOS 11 Maps features, such as the addition of speed limit information, remain limited to the United States and the UK.

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Apple Maps expands lane guidance feature Austria, South Africa, and Switzerland

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Apple recently expanded its Apple Maps lane guidance feature to cover Austria, South African and Switzerland, providing users in those countries access to localized onscreen assets designed to keep drivers abreast of upcoming highway or freeway deviations.
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Peaks and valleys: An honest look at the startup ecosystem in Switzerland

When foreigners think of Switzerland, romantic images of beautiful snow peaked mountains, chocolate, watches, and cowbells come to mind. But startups and technology? Not so much. Despite Switzerland being ranked the most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index, our country’s startup and tech scenes are more often than not overshadowed by more the established hubs in Berlin and London. Many potential founders are put off by the comparatively high cost of living and small Swiss market; however, if you look closely, while there may be challenges, nestled between our mountains you can find the ingredients for an…

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Matternet Is Expanding Drone Delivery to Hospitals in Switzerland

Hospital Delivery

Delivering our online orders and groceries are one application of drone technology, but while that’s still farther off than we may like, it should be noted that drones are already being used for deliveries in other areas, such as moving blood and other medical resources between hospitals.

Matternet is one such company providing this service in Switzerland, even though it’s based out of California. Matternet built its own drone base station to automate ground operations as well as air traffic, and they’re currently testing their drone network throughout the country.

As explained by Wired, packages are placed in a shoebox-size storage container, then scanned using a QR reader. The package is then transferred to one of Matternet’s drones, and the delivery begins. According to the company, the drones can travel about 12 miles while carrying around 4 pounds, and are capable of finding the safest path through the air — they use the same airspace as emergency helicopters and constantly broadcast their locations.

Prior to the introduction of the drones, hospitals would use third-party couriers to get supplies around. The problem with that, however, was price and trustworthiness.

“We have a vision of a distributed network, not hub and spoke, but true peer-to-peer,” says Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos.

Expanding Services

Zipline is another company using drones to deliver medical supplies to remote health workers in Rwanda and Tanzania, starting in 2018. Workers text their order to the company, who then prepare the items before sending them off. Within fifteen minutes, the drone will drop the package attached to a parachute, with the worker being notified throughout the entire process.

Going forward, Matternet has plans to expand beyond remote locations. The company wants to bring their drone network to more populated areas in Switzerland before the end of 2017, then branch out to the rest of Europe, followed by the U.S. and Japan. If everything goes well, the California-based company hopes more people will use their drones. The speed of their deliveries will be a huge benefit to those requiring medical attention, and knowing help is quickly on the way could provide some much needed solace amidst traumatic injuries.

The post Matternet Is Expanding Drone Delivery to Hospitals in Switzerland appeared first on Futurism.


Matternet to launch medical drone delivery in Switzerland

Matternet to launch medical drone delivery in Switzerland

Back in March, logistics company Matternet was granted permission to launch a drone delivery service over populated areas in Switzerland. Now, with the unveiling of the Matternet Station, the final piece of the puzzle is in place.

Getting packages from one place to another isn’t the main challenge facing prospective commercial drone delivery services. The question is how to integrate those services into our everyday lives, in ways that don’t make sending or receiving a parcel more complicated or even more dangerous than it needs to be. Menlo Park, California-based logistics company Matternet appears to be on the verge of solving that problem.

Observers of Amazon’s progress will have noticed countless patents detailing systems made up of futuristic warehouses, delivery hives and parachutes. To begin with, Matternet has set its sights a little lower. Instead of dropping parcels on your doorstep, the focus is on the urban transportation of medical supplies. This is enabled by Matternet’s own docking stations.

Read more: Flytrex launches drone delivery trial in Iceland

On-demand courier services

The aim of the Matternet Station is to be a hub for autonomous urban drone deliveries. Instead of attempting to navigate the complexities of a door to door service, the station enables customers to send a package from one place to another within the logistics network.

The first Matternet Stations will service hospitals and medical centers in Switzerland, automating the on-demand transportation of blood and pathology samples between facilities. The network in Switzerland will allow samples and supplies to be received by hospitals within 30 minutes.

The Matternet Station is seen as the final piece of the jigsaw in Matternet’s drone logistics network. Together with the company’s autonomous M2 Drone and the Matternet Cloud platform, users now have everything they need to send and receive packages.

The Matternet Station is small enough to be seen as nothing more than a futuristic mailbox. It covers two square meters and can be installed on the ground or on rooftops. The base station has been designed to simplify the delivery process. Interactions with it are more in line with what you might expect from a vending machine than a logistics hub.

The Matternet Station is equipped with technology that guides the M2 Drone to a precise landing point on the station’s platform. After landing, the drone is locked in place, its battery is swapped and its payload is removed. The package can be taken from the station when the user scans the correct QR code with a smartphone. The sending process is similarly straightforward.

To ensure that stations aren’t overrun with aerial congestion, each comes with an ‘automated aerial deconfliction system’ that manages drone traffic in the vicinity.

Matternet CEO, Andreas Raptopoulos, believes that the speed of Matternet’s service will have a big impact on patient care and end up saving the healthcare industry a substantial amount compared with its use of traditional couriers.

“With the Matternet Station, we’re introducing an extremely easy-to-use interface that enables true peer-to-peer drone delivery,” he said.

“For healthcare systems, an integrated Matternet network means that medical items can be delivered to any hospital facility within 30 minutes. This level of speed and predictability creates substantial opportunities for improved quality of care and operational savings.”

Read more: French postal service given go-ahead to start drone deliveries

Medical supplies head the queue for innovation

There has been plenty of hype surrounding the prospect of autonomous delivery. It’s one of many opportunities in the drone industry to capture the imaginations of entrepreneurs. But as much as retailers are pushing for door to door services to become a reality, regulators in countries such as America are progressing with caution.

In the States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently restricts flights that go beyond the line of sight of the pilot and those that fly over people. That goes some way to explaining why Amazon currently tests in the UK and companies like Matternet and Flytrex have set up in Switzerland and Iceland, respectively.

Yet when lives are at stake, it’s clear that there’s less room for caution. For that reason, medical drone delivery services are leading the way around the world. Matternet can take inspiration from established services in Africa, where Zipline is delivering vital supplies to the people of Rwanda and Tanzania.

Read more: Amazon patents inner-city drone delivery towers

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