Insurance in the age of drones - The entrepreneurs: an overview

Switzerland is beginning to establish as a hub for the development of drones, aided by relatively liberal flying regulations, an established robotics base, and close links between academia and entrepreneurs.

Five companies were presenting and exhibiting at the event, showcasing their pioneering technology.

Flyability is a spin off from the Federal Technology Institute in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. It specializes in drone technology that can operate in confined, tight spaces. Based on insect biology, its cage allows it to collide but continue flying, learning and mapping from its collisions.

Wingtra comes out of the labs of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland. It is developing a drone, which has both the agility of hover blades; but can also be manipulated to fly with the efficiency of a fixed wing craft.

Another spin off from the ETH, Fotokite is a drone technology specializing in allowing journalists in particular to capture airborne images quickly. It is controlled through a tether, a little like a mouse. Already in use by CNN and others.

With links to the Federal Technology Institute in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, the well-established senseFly, now a subsidiary of Parrot, is focused on producing both fixed wing and hover blade drones to map wider landscapes and create 3D models of standing structures.

See also Jean-Christophe Zufferey's (CEO and co-founder Sensefly) article in the Risk Dialogue Magazine on drones: "Increasing job efficiency through drone geospatial data".

Based in California, Matternet is focused on the logistics sector, and how drones can be used for delivery. The company has one partnership with UNICEF to supply medicines to remote areas in Malawi; and another with Mercedes Benz to deliver components to construction workers in the field.