Robotics and intelligent systems in the Greater Zurich Area

Drone technology

The Greater Zurich Area is the world's leading location for the development of core technology (software, autopilot, sensors) for drones and in commercial applications. Top universities such as ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, a large and active community of developers, numerous drone and component manufacturers, and innovation-friendly authorities make Switzerland the "Silicon Valley of robotics".

Discover the top reasons why the Greater Zurich Area is the ideal location for drone companies. 

1. Universities

ETH Zurich is one of the world's leading universities - also in the fields of robotics and drones. In numerous laboratories, technologies and algorithms are developed that use drones to explore a wide variety of areas such as solar energy, the environment, computer vision, mapping, or the limits of dynamic systems and controls. The University of Zurich also conducts cutting-edge research in the field of drones. Universities of applied sciences such as the ZHAW or the Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil (HSR) are very strong in the training of engineers. The ZHAW is also researching ways to make drones even safer in the future. Outside Greater Zurich, a second strong pillar of the Swiss drone ecosystem has developed around the EPFL in Lausanne.

In Greater Zurich we find first-class partners from the drone and robotics ecosystem.
Andreas Lamprecht - Chief Technology Officer at AirMap

2. Open-source software & Developer community

The PX4 software, developed by ETH Zurich doctoral candidate Lorenz Meier and his team has become a kind of gold standard for drone control systems used by numerous commercial, industrial, and academic users. The source code of PX4 is open source and is therefore freely available. In the last ten years, an international community of about 400 active developers has grown bottom-up in Zurich, further developing the platform. The origins of the PX4 ecosystem is one of the reasons why so many companies in Zurich are working on drones. The software is part of an ecosystem of open source projects managed by the Linux Foundation, which in addition to flight control includes other elements such as ground stations, communication between drone and ground, and machine vision (computer vision). Auterion, the largest open-source drone software company and largest contributor to the PX4 ecosystem is also based in the Greater Zurich Area. Auterion's co-founder Kevin Sartori says "The Greater Zurich Area offers highly skilled and diverse engineering talent, a strong ecosystem in drone technology, solid international connections, and an unrivaled quality of life. This made it the ideal location to found Auterion, a deep-tech company focused on international customers."

Over the past few years, Zurich has become the world's leading location for the development of the core technology for drones, i.e. software, autopilot, and sensors.
Kevin Sartori
Kevin Sartori - Co-founder of the drone software company Auterion

3. You're in good company

Local companies and start-ups

Drone companies: Aerotain (interactive blimp shows), Auterion (drone operating system), Daedalean (autopilot software), Drone Harmony (flight planning app), Flarm (traffic awareness and collision avoidance technology), Fotokite (tethered drones), Skypull (drone with wind power), Sunflower Labs (perimeter security drones), Verity Studios (indoor drone shows), Voliro (inspection and spraying flights), Wingtra (mapping VTOLs)

Component manufacturers: Distran (ultrasonic sensors), Fixposition (high-precision navigation), Insightness (visual sensors), Leica Geosystems (laser scanner), Sensirion (sensors for speed measurement), u-blox (GPS modules).

International companies

AirMap, EWATT, Matternet, Yuneec

4. Leading global software companies

The drone ecosystem also benefits from the leading position of the Greater Zurich Area as a hub for information technologies with a very large talent pool of software developers. Companies such as Google, Microsoft HoloLens, Disney, Oculus (acquired by Facebook) and Dacuda (acquired by Magic Leap) are active in the area of computer vision. Related ecosystems are mutually fertilizing.


5. Innovation-friendly authorities

Swiss regulatory and supervisory authorities are progressive and pragmatic, not only when it comes to drones, and they are in constant contact with the industry concerned. They think and act according to the basic attitude: to regulate without hindering innovation. In September 2017, Skyguide and the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), together with their industrial partners, demonstrated for the first time worldwide how drones can be safely and efficiently integrated into existing airspace.

Robotics & intelligent systems in the Greater Zurich Area

Robotics & intelligent systems in the Greater Zurich Area

The Greater Zurich Area continues to be a global leader in roboticsdrone technology and computer vision. There are close ties in the region between the industry, world-class universities and researchers and innovation-friendly authorities. This has driven revolutionary advancements, attracted leading technology firms and talent and encouraged entrepreneurship in the region, leading to unmatched opportunities for robot technology companies.

Robotik und Intelligente Systeme in der Greater Zurich Area

Interested to know more about the thriving drone technology ecosystem of Greater Zurich? The experts Andreas Lamprecht, CTO at AirMap, and Kevin Sartori, Co-Founder at Auterion explain in our webinar how the collaboration between academia, industry, and regulators works.


Download the webinar presentations here. 

Contact us

Can we put you in touch with a peer company or research institute? Do you need any information regarding your strategic expansion to Switzerland's technology and business center?