HUBweek Demos and Exhibitions

Aerial Futures – Series Context

Our extended program series set out to ask, “What impact will drones have on our future?”

Created and curated by swissnex Boston, Aerial Futures: The Drone Frontier imagined the changes coming to our lives through the increasing adoption and implementation of professional drone technology. Drones hover on the horizon of a rapidly developing technological landscape, allowing for new and imaginative applications of AI, flight technology, 3D imaging, and other burgeoning fields. These machines have an increasingly large presence in our anticipated future, bringing both incredible opportunities and new challenges. Switzerland, in particular, has embraced drones and created an ecosystem for the technology to develop. Together with leading experts from Switzerland and all over the world, we continue to address the changes these machines and their associated technologies will bring to our global society. Learn more about our ongoing activities here.


Subject Areas What We’re Reading

Subject Areas – drones and beyond


Flight technology

Spherical Drone (Source: 3D Print)

The bio-inspired “Flying Fox” drone (FESTO)

(Wyss Institute at Harvard University)

Maneuverability. Precision. Power.

Drones are making use of the latest emerging developments in aerial engineering and design, allowing for safer operations in turbulent, highly populated, or otherwise sensitive areas. Many engineers are focused on making drone flight quieter, enabling researchers to capture detailed aural data from the unexplored world.  From bio-inspired drones that replicate the flight patterns of bats and bees to powerful “disaster drones”, capable of stable flight in conditions too dangerous for human piloting, drones are getting lighter, faster,  stronger, and more efficient.


Rescue drone prototype (Project Ryptide)

Bricklaying drone (factor-tech)

Vahana, a single-passenger “urban mobility” drone (Vahana)

Transportation. Delivery. Speed.

With drone delivery systems approved for testing, our lives are about to be directly affected by drone payload abilities. The possibilities reach far beyond your packages – already in the works are drone human transportation systems, drone-powered construction, and even first response mechanisms- with drones carrying time-sensitive medical supplies to patients in need.  The drone payload makes the application possibilities for this technology virtually endless. Our future will likely see more drones carrying agricultural supplies, land surveillance and mapping systems, toxin detectors, and more.

Uses- Imagined and unimagined

(Plan Bee at work)

(Verity Studios)

Humanitarian drone demo (WeRobotics)

Bio-tech. Art. Infrastructure. Beyond.

Could drones replace bees in our ecosystem as populations dwindle? Could they make it possible to bring infrastructure and utilities to previously inaccessible areas? Will drones have a significant impact on the entertainment industry and live performance? Will drones revolutionize what is possible in the humanitarian sector? As technology evolves, these are just a few of the imaginative applications coming out of the drone industry.

Ethics and Regulation

Public surveillance drones (Security Magazine)

Consumer DSLR Camera Drone (

Trust. Safety. Security.

As with all technological juggernauts, drones bring with them concerns over policy and regulation to protect personal and public interest. The excitement of autonomous drones also elicits caution and skepticism, forcing us to confront the ability of these machines to make decisions and respect our privacy. Public pressure is mounting for air traffic controllers, technology manufacturers, and policymakers to come together to anticipate the guidelines that must be developed to avoid misuse of drones and appropriately place liability for the technology.

Reading Areas

Take a look at what the swissnex Boston team is reading about the #DroneFrontier

After an earthquake, drones to the rescue? (swissinfo)

A new proposed law would turn drone journalism into a swarm of lawsuits and make it easy to sue over news photography  (NeimanLab)

photo by Andrew Xu

New model legislation would drastically increase the amount of legally necessary permission needed from individuals before capturing photos and videos of public events with drones.


Other reading

How Drones are Transforming Humanitarian Aid (swissinfo)

Read about our event in Cambridge, where we partnered with WeRobotics and MIT Solve to bring together experts from Switzerland and the US to address some of the biggest questions surrounding humanitarian drone applications.

Drones Don’t Wear Uniforms. They Should. (

Following our discussion on May 15, Faine Greenwood, a featured speaker at our Humanitarian Drones Experts Meetings, writes her thoughts on drone conduct and visual identifiers for

Cargo Drones in Humanitarian Context – Meeting Summary (FSD)

The purpose of this meeting was to advance the effective use of this emerging technology in humanitarian efforts actively, responsibly and effectively. This document summarizes the presentations and main discussion items of this meeting.

Big Day for Drones as the US Endorses Tests for Package Delivery and More (CNET)

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced 10 test projects that will bring the unmanned aircraft into the skies. That means faster approval for experiments that could have drones sending medical supplies like blood and defibrillators, inspecting industrial sites from the air and even transporting people by air.