Project presentations on the website

Every project supported by Gebert Rüf Stiftung is made accessible with a web presentation that informs about the core data of the project. With this public presentation, the foundation publishes the funding results achieved and contributes to the communication of science to society.


Developing a New Autonomous Aerial Robot


Für den Inhalt der Angaben zeichnet die Projektleitung verantwortlich.


Dieses von der Gebert Rüf Stiftung geförderte Projekt wird von folgenden weiteren Projektpartnern mitgetragen: Autonomous Systems Lab ETH Zurich; Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab ETH Zurich

Project data

  • Project no: GRS-087/14 
  • Amount of funding: CHF 340'000 
  • Approved: 16.04.2015 
  • Duration: 06.2015 - 06.2016 
  • Area of activity:  Pilotprojekte, 1998 - 2018

Project management

Project description

Recent progress in sensor, battery and motor technology made a new class of small and affordable aerial robots possible. However, current platforms have been limited in a way that they either provide manoeuvrability (rotorcrafts) or range (fixed wing airplanes), and must be flown by humans. Even though high quality autopilot systems are available and autonomous flight has been demonstrated under lab conditions, these solutions have never been integrated to a level where 3rd parties can deploy such systems easily.

Researchers at the Autonomous Systems Lab of ETH Zurich have developed and proven the technology of a completely new aerial robot, combining the advantages of both fixed wing airplanes and multicopters. This new aircraft design makes it theoretically possible to transport payloads of 2kg completely autonomous through the air over distances of up to 50 Kilometres. Deployable over land and water, such a system could search for missing individuals and is able to carry and deploy first aid materials such as defibrillators. Moreover the robot could transport parcels to remote locations where road infrastructure is interrupted or not present, potentially helping more than a billion humans today by facilitating local micro trade.
This project aimed to develop and build a technology demonstrator in order to realize the potential of the available technology. To achieve this, robust control algorithms had to be developed. Additionally, it was essential to build improved prototypes as well as integrate existing software to demonstrate the real life capabilities of such a system.

This proof of concept, presented to researchers, companies and the general public, is likely to spur both additional innovations in the field of aerial robotics and the dialogue with society on how to use aerial robots in the future. The design approach can now be transformed into a product, resulting in an affordable and easy to use solution with unique flying capabilities.

What is special about the project?

The main innovation of this project lies in its design in combination with new control algorithms. This makes it possible to hover as well as transition into wing borne flight with a single system. This novel hardware made it necessary to develop new control strategies, which work in all of the different flight regimes. With one self stabilizing wing and only four actuators, the hardware design is reduced to its minimum. However, the most disruptive innovation on a large scale will be caused by the sheer feasibility of new missions that until today were not thinkable.


The project started at the 1.6.2015 and focused on the transfer from prove of technology to prove of concept. The current stage of the project is presented on the website of wingtra. The current system prototypes are reliable development platforms that can be used as the starting point to develop an industrial grade product.



Persons involved in the project

Basil Weibel Project Manager
Sebastian Verling Ph.D. Student
Elias Kleimann Business Development
Max Boosfeld Lead Software Engineer
Armin Ambühl Lead Mechanical Engineer

Last update to this project presentation  07.08.2020