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Switzerland Launches First Ever Remote ID Network for Drones

BY Zacc Dukowitz
15 September 2021

Switzerland recently launched the world’s first Remote ID network for drone operations. The network is called NET-RID (Network Remote Identification), and is currently voluntary.

switzerland-matternet-remote-id
Photo credit: Matternet

In Switzerland, NET-RID can be used to share information about active drone operations and the drone pilots conducting them with aviation authorities, air traffic code enforcers, and others using the airspace nearby.

With the increasing amount of drones operating in the airspace it is now important to be able to identify a drone easily. Thanks to the remote identification service we will save precious time, which is of considerable value to the Geneva police.

– Philippe Couturier, Sergeant in the Geneva Police Department

Using the network, drone pilots’ registration numbers and flight information can be accessed by an open-source Linux Foundation system called the InterUSS Platform.

According to those who created it, the network complies with ASTM’s F3411 standard for Remote ID and Tracking, which lays out guidelines for ensuring privacy in how data is shared.

The ASTM standard describes an approach to data sharing designed to guarantee that only necessary information is shared in order to protect the privacy of drone operators while also “reassuring the general public that nearby drone operations are safe and compliant.”

Remote Identification of drones in Swiss airspace

The creation of NET-RID was the result of a huge collaboration between the Swiss government and a whopping 31 private companies who work with UTM/U-Space and drones.

The overall effort is called the Swiss U-Space Implementation (SUSI) task force. It was created three years ago, in December of 2018, with the goal of effectively implementing U-Space capabilities and technologies in Switzerland.

Among the 31 partner companies involved in the NET-RID project, here are some of the key players:

  • ANRA Technologies
  • Avision
  • AirMap
  • Involi
  • OneSky
  • Orbitalize
  • SkyyNetwork
  • skyguide
  • Win

Network vs. Broadcast

The NET-RID network relies on an internet connection rather than a broadcast approach, in which data about the drone and its operator would be broadcast from the drone.

According to those involved in the NET-RID project, this approach is safer because it allows data to be monitored at a great distance.

That being said, it does mean that operators must maintain a constant connection to the internet, which could limit usage for those operating in rural areas with limited connectivity.

If a drone is flying through a space of 1 km, and sending out position signals one time per second, you may only get one or two signals. Broadcast solutions can’t help with safety—the range is just too short. With a networked system, you know where the drone is 5 miles away from where you are now . . . The network enables you to see much further than just the range of a broadcast. It also allows you to understand the intent of the operator, like the flight plan.

– Chris Kucera, Co-Founder of OneSky

Unlike the Swiss Remote ID system, the U.S. Remote ID system proposed by the FAA will rely on broadcast technology, and require drone pilots to broadcast their ID and locational information.

U-Space and the Future of European Drone Operations

U-Space is a term similar to UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management), which describes a sophisticated framework for drone operations that allows them to operate along with peopled aircraft in any class of airspace.

The European Commission’s U-Space Regulation 2021/664 describes the requirements for U-Space in the E.U., with a key requirement that member countries provide a Remote ID service.

All of the E.U.’s U-Space requirements will go into effect in January of 2023 for its countries, which is a pretty aggressive timeline—so far, Switzerland is out in front when it comes to moving toward U-Space readiness.

By launching the NET-RID network, Switzerland has taken an important step toward establishing U-Space in the country, setting up a key piece of the infrastructure needed to implement U-Space operations.

Switzerland’s Drone Leadership

The launch of NET-RID is just one of many accomplishments Switzerland has made over the last several years.

In fact, Switzerland has been pushing the drone industry forward for a long time now, on both the public and the private front.

On the public side, Swiss regulators have allowed for groundbreaking drone operations like delivery, which require flying BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight), to be broadly tested and implemented.

Notable efforts include Matternet’s partnership with the Swiss Post for parcel delivery, as well as its partnership with country-wide healthcare system Insel Group for medical drone deliveries.

matternet-swiss-post
Photo credit: Matternet

On the private side, companies like Pix4D, Matternet, Flyability, Wingtra, and Verity—among others—have all helped push forward drone technology, providing leadership not just in Switzerland but globally when it comes to expanding the boundaries of what drones can do to improve the world.

switzerland-wingtra-remote-id
Photo credit: Wingtra

Switzerland is also a global leader when it comes to fundraising for drone startups.

According to research by Drone Industry Insights (DroneII), since 2010 Switzerland and Germany have raked in a combined total of over $950 million dollars in funding for drone-related startups.

drone-ii-germany-switzerland-drones
Photo credit: DroneII

In July of last year, the FAA announced a partnership with the Switzerland Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

The goal of the partnership is to build domestic and international safety standards for drones, with a special focus on integrating drones into the national airspace.

This U.S./Swiss agreement continues the move forward of the safe, efficient, and internationally harmonized integration of these vehicles into the world’s airspace.

– Jay Merkle, Executive Director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office

Switzerland’s launch of NET-RID is a big step forward for the entire drone industry, and could help inform the way new Remote ID requirements are implemented here in the U.S., which will be required for manufacturers in 2022 and for pilots in 2023.

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