EPFL stages first ever public showcase of drone technology

Members of the public can watch drone racing, learn how to fly a drone and get an insight into the latest drone research in a new event at EPFL, the federal technology institute in Lausanne, this weekend.

EPFL stages first ever public showcase of drone technology
Photo: Peter Linehan
The first ever ‘Drone Days’ event, held on the EPFL campus from September 1st to 3rd, aims to be “a fixture on the Swiss drone scene” said EPFL in a statement
Free for the general public to attend, the weekend will include a series of drone races, where the country’s top pilots will compete at speeds of up to 150km/hr in the skies above the campus.
Visitors can also sign up to fly a drone, experience drone flight using virtual reality goggles, and test a crash-resistant drone with Flyability, a start-up that began life at EPFL. 
An interactive exhibition will showcase leading drone-technology research projects being conducted by EPFL, including demonstrations of emerging innovations. 
EPFL is at the forefront of drone technology developments in Switzerland. 
Last December the institute announced that researchers had developed a drone with ‘feathered’ wings that can mimic bird flight. 
And in January 2016 EPFL spin-off Flyability test drove its crash-resistant drone into a glacier to show how it can explore the most inaccessible areas of the planet. 
Switzerland has embraced drone technology to a large extent. 
Earlier this year Swiss Post trialled a drone delivery service to shuttle laboratory samples between hospitals in Ticino. Parcel delivery by drone is also in development. 
Drones are also being developed to help farmers with crop-spraying and aid rescuers find missing people
But issues have also arisen. 
Last year several prisons said they intended to install anti-drone systems to prevent drones being used to deliver contraband to prisoners. 
And there have been instances of drones being used illegally, such as above public gatherings, including above a nudist waterpark near Bern. 
According to Swiss law, no permit is needed to fly a drone that weighs under 30kg, although the pilot must always keep the drone in sight and it should not be flown over gatherings of people.