Switzerland is planning to create an ‘aviary of drones’ to get the general public all abuzz about its technological expertise at the VivaTech innovation show in Paris this month.
The “aviary” will host 11 Swiss companies that produce both drones and certification systems – and the Swiss are not stopping at having fun with just one avian metaphor.
“For those who do not know Switzerland ‘tech’, I take the example of the cuckoo. I tell them that the Swiss drones are cuckoo 4.0”, said Wednesday the director of ‘Présence Suisse’, the federal body responsible for promoting Switzerland abroad, Nicolas Bideau.
At the exhibition, visitors will be able to view a show with different types of drones each hour, including drones developed by EPFL and ETH Zurich, as well as a wind tunnel developed by a Geneva company that certifies the ability of drones to fly in windy conditions.
Switzerland will also take the opportunity to present its drone legislation. “We have a drone office at the Office of Civil Aviation that is in constant contact with industry and research, it allows testing and allows companies to develop their product,” said Bideau.
“I would like the Confederation to be more involved in technology, and I think the drone will enable us to broaden and diversify Switzerland’s image among the general public,” he added, speaking at a press conference at the Swiss pavilion of VivaTech.
The pavilion is just the start for Switzerland, who intend to use VivaTech as a stepping stone for a larger global presence. Presence at the WEF and CES in Las Vegas in January 2019, at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and the Dubai World Expo 2020-21 is the long term goal, with embassies of Switzerland organizing events dedicated to drones throughout the year.
Speaking with Agefi, Bideau explained the reason behind Switzerland’s choice to focus on drones.
“Our mission is to promote Switzerland’s image and to diversify its perception, especially in the innovation sector. Switzerland is very strong in basic research and patents, but our brains end up too often in German cars or American smartphones. We have few industrial products that embody our technology,” he said.
The Swiss drone ecosystem is a real opportunity to embody Swiss technology in terms of communication. In this way, we can talk about universities, companies, the role of the state or the promotion of investments in Switzerland. The drone is a concrete object, immediately associated by the public with high technology.”
Asked how Switzerland can differentiate itself in this highly competitive field, he answered, “The diversity of the ecosystem. Switzerland is active at 360 ° in the field. Our researchers and entrepreneurs produce drones as well as sensors, engines, applications or advice at the World Bank!”
“Very few countries have this capacity, we are among the world leaders,” he said, adding that Switzerland does not intend to try and compete in the consumer drone market where price and manufacturing costs are primary considerations.
Instead, he says that Switzerland’s focus is on professional drones, “where stability and quality of research are paramount, where the effect of Swiss Made is a big added value.”