Public gets hands-on experience with Swiss drones in Boston

FlyJacket, a project from EPFL / NCCR Robotics, allows users to pilot drones with intuitive motion within an immersive VR environment. swissnex Boston

Swiss drones were front and centre this week at HUBWeekExternal link, an “ideas festival” in Boston, Massachusetts dedicated to showcasing and celebrating innovations at the intersection of art, science and technology.

This content was published on October 12, 2018 - 17:00

More than 25 researchers and entrepreneurs from Switzerland’s rapidly growing drone industry came to exchange ideas, experiences and technology with their North American counterparts and the Boston public. A“flying cage” was set up so the public could experience live demonstrationsExternal link of the latest drone technologies.

The showcase was organised by swissnex Boston as part if its Aerial Futures: the Drone Frontier seriesExternal link (see box), and sponsored by SwissTouchExternal link, an event series and social media campaign aimed at promoting Swiss innovation by the Embassy of Switzerland in the US.

The more than 45 drone exhibitors at the event included representatives from the Swiss Federal Technology Institute in Lausanne, EPFLExternal link, who demonstrated multiple projects including FlyJacket, a system that allows users to fly a drone intuitively using body motion in an immersive virtual reality environment. ¨

“This is the first time we've exhibited in the US,” said Guillaume Catry, co-founder of Geneva-based WindShapeExternal link, an intelligent system for testing drones in a variety of flight conditions. “Previously, I felt there was a bottleneck trying to break in to the US. It’s not the same to meet with someone over the phone or on Skype – you really have to come here to make a meaningful connection. For us, it has been really valuable to meet with the attendees, but just as importantly, with the other exhibitors.”

WindShape co-founder Guillaume Catry demonstrates the system for event attendees inside a flying cage at District Hall in Boston. swissnex Boston

Attendees were also introduced to US drone innovations like SnotBotExternal link, a system that collects and analyses the mucous of whales to monitor the health of the ocean.

The public exhibition was complemented by expert talks and workshops on drone research, applications and industry.

“What we’re interested in is the connections and conversations,” said swissnex Boston's Francesco Bortoluzzi. “We’ve seen people from outside the drone industry interacting directly with these inventors and startup entrepreneurs, sparking ideas for new systems, features and collaborations.”

External Content

Aerial Futures: the Drone FrontierExternal link is an ongoing event series created and curated by swissnex Boston, aimed at exploring the changes to policy and society that accompany the growing adoption and implementation of professional drone technology. publishes stories on the events and topics corresponding to the Aerial Futures series, in collaboration with swissnex Boston. You can follow the series on social media using the #DroneFrontierExternal link hashtag.

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