Soon the residents of Switzerland will be seeing more drones in the sky as the country is making plans to use unmanned drones into their air traffic management systems. The system will be tracking each drone and register all the operators in order to make the airspace safer. Skyguide, a Swiss air traffic control operator has partnered with AirMap. Skyguide will start migrating its data and air traffic management applications to AirMap’s airspace mapping platform in June.
This effort is a part of a huge initiative known as U-space. It aims to promote safe and secure access to European airspace for millions of drones and their operators. Along with the partnership between Skyguide and AirMap, the U-space first phase will include the development of the services which will register and give IDs to drones and their operators. It will also implement the geofencing restrictions which means that the airspace around and above some buildings and locations won’t be accessible to drones. Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap, said, “With Swiss U-space, Switzerland aims to safely open the skies for drone commerce. We’re proud to work with Skyguide to bring AirMap UTM to Switzerland and make it possible for more pilots, more drones, and more missions to take flight in Europe.”
One of U-Space goals is to incorporate drones into the new business model, however, an effective management system is required for it first. The completed air traffic management system will be the first phase in the national rollout of U-Space. This system is in comparison to the US NASA-designed Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management. It is also meant to enable the use of low-altitude airspace. The system is still a long way from being fully implemented and accounting for every drone in Switzerland, the system is currently being used for “automated flight authorization and cataloging for drones”.
The other functioning of U-Space is expected to be rolling out in four different phases from 2018 to 2021. Phase 2 will implement flight planning, flight approval, and tracking. Phase 3 and 4 will have more complex flight operations like “assistance for conflict detection” and enhanced autonomy for drones and the U-space management system. It is still not clear how many drones and operators will be participating in U-Space. Mostly drone operators in Switzerland are hobbyists and many will ignore the U-Space developments. There are also concerns regarding the costs and regulations if these flights are commercialized. If Switzerland is capable of implementing this system over its 16000 sq miles of territory, it can help ensure safer use of drones all over the world.