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World Economic Forum starts Drone Innovators Network to accelerate policy innovation

To drive and accelerate policy Innovation the World Economic Forum has started a Drone Innovators Network which includes government agencies, academia and industry players like Parrot and DJI. The new network has been launched by the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and aims to have aviation authorities around the world share research and best practices as well as collaborate on innovative new drone policies, to ultimately accelerate responsible drone use across society.

It’s all about access to airspace

Currently, governments and aviation authorities around the world are struggling to develop regulations for unmanned aerial systems that will bring the benefits of drones to our society while minimizing the risks.

The World Economic Forum, the international organization for public-private cooperation, initiated the Drone Innovators Network, as a platform to bring together pioneering aviation authorities to share research, best practices and innovative new policies, to help overcome these challenges.

The Drone Innovators Network will put the spotlight on drone success stories in Rwanda (Zipline) and Switzerland (Matternet). Both countries have found ways to integrate new drone services into the regulated airspace safely.

“It’s all about access to airspace,” said Timothy Reuter, Head of Drones at the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Drones are playing an increasingly important role in saving lives, promoting food security and enabling economic growth. But the kind of regulations needed to scale up this technology is not there yet. We created the Drone Innovators Network to bring together a community of government pioneers to inspire and show what is possible.”

“It is not by chance that the first international Drone Innovators Network meeting is taking place in Switzerland; Switzerland is a leader in drone technology,” said Doris Leuthard, Federal Councillor, Switzerland. “The close collaboration between institutes of technology, industry and the authorities makes Switzerland an attractive location for start-ups, companies and academic research. Switzerland is, therefore, playing a pioneering role in this area today.”

Showcasing and promoting new drone technology and use-cases is a vital component of the Drone Innovators Network. Today marks the day of the first nationwide demonstration of an Unmanned Traffic Management system took place. It allows users to see in real-time, on one screen, all the registered drone flights that are currently taking place. Perhaps the UTM is best explained as putting digital ‘stop signs’ in the sky. While improving overall safety, such a system lowers the barriers to entry for new drone pilots.

The UTM can warn registered drone operators when they are approaching a no-fly zone or to stay away from areas where first responders may be active, such as we have seen after hurricanes and earthquakes. The system will also be able to tell if a drone has permission to access certain airspace.

Today’s test was performed by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation together with drone makers Parrot and Matternet as well as air navigation service providers AirMap and Skyguide.

Currently, the new Drone Innovators Network is being run by the World Economic Forum’s San Francisco office. We applaud their initiative as it will help to bring government agencies, academia and industry players, such as DJI and Parrot, together to speed up the drone policy development around the world, which will help to bring time-saving and even life-saving technologies to our society.


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo