Insurance in the age of drones - The regulator

Drones cannot take to the air unless permitted to do so. The Swiss authorities are currently seeking to create a legal framework that allows the technology to develop, while sufficiently addressing safety concerns.

Key points to that framework are:

As a starting point, the Swiss authorities recognize a drone as an aircraft. No authorization is required for a drone in visual contact, weighing below 30kg, at least 100m away from an outdoor crowd and with CHF1 million insurance coverage.

If a drone is an aircraft, it should operate to the safety standards of an aircraft, which require certified organsiation (airline), certified staff (pilot, crew) and aircraft design. A drone, by its nature, cannot meet these requirements. Therefore, seen from the regulatory perspective, three categories of aircraft have emerged: open (within framework); specific (not sufficiently safe, requiring safety measures); and certified (approved to accepted standards and ensures sufficient safety).

The same level of safety is demanded from all three categories, which involves looking at the framework through a holistic risk model to identify potential vulnerabilities. With drones, these are danger to third parties on the ground; mid air collision; and damage to critical infrastructure. The threats to drones come from mechanical failure, human error, collision, adverse operating conditions or datalink deterioration.

Watch Markus Farner's presentation in full length:

The Swiss authorities do not work in a vacuum, they follow the guidance and principles of the international body, the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JANUS). The net result, however, is an efficient one, whereby a drone operator needs a single regulatory clearance to operate within accepted parameters. That does not happen everywhere – in the Netherlands, eight separate permits are required to operate a drone.

For more information, see:

Summary of Samy Kamkar's presenation at the Centre's Drone event in October 2016. Kamkar is a privacy and security researcher, computer hacker, whistleblower and entrepreneur. Summary written by Simon Woodward.