Drones should fly with a chip

Report from the NZZ, by Ursina Haller / July 14, 2016, 11:22 am

In the future, drones should no longer take off without registration. The federal government is working on a regulation that will make the owners easier to identify.

Crashes, disregarded flight bans and extensive filming: the use of private drones regularly causes trouble. Because the owners of the objects in flight are often difficult to identify, it is difficult to hold them accountable. That should change now. As Urs Holderegger from the Federal Office for Civil Defense (Bazl) today in Interview from Radio SRF said the federal government is working on mandatory registration for drones.

So that the law enforcement authorities can track down guilty “pilots”, every drone should receive a chip so that the buyer has to register. This sends its position to the cell phone network and the devices are identified with the help of an assigned IP address. In this way, the police can still determine who flew the drone afterwards.

Also models from the toy department

So far, however, only one fundamental decision has been made for registration, according to Holderegger. Legal restrictions will be required for data access. For example, the consent of a judge must be available.

At present, a permit from the Bazl is only required for drones weighing over 30 kilograms. The office defines the conditions for approval and operation in each individual case. Drones weighing 500 grams or more would fall under the electronic registration requirement. This would also include the very popular, inexpensive models from the toy department.

There will certainly be a transition period, explains Holderegger. “First the new devices must be equipped with a chip, after a certain period of time existing devices must also be upgraded”.

Legal hurdles

However, it will be some time before drones only take off with an electronic chip: An obligation to register must be approved by parliament, and new legal provisions are needed on aircraft of special categories. In addition, sensitive data protection issues need to be clarified. Switzerland would not be alone in this, as Holderegger knows: Other European authorities would also consider registering drones electronically.

(Source: Report from the NZZ, by Ursina Haller / July 14, 2016, 11:22 a.m.)