The third edition of Commercial UAV Expo came to a close last Friday in Las Vegas, having attracted 2,000 professionals from 53 countries and every U.S. state, representing a wide range of industries including process, power utilities; civil infrastructure; construction; mining and aggregates, surveying and mapping; precision agriculture; law enforcement, emergency response and search and rescue.
"Commercial UAV Expo succeeded in bringing out the top tier of the market for commercial drones," said Lisa Murry, Event Director. "This event is for the professional audience, which was abundantly clear by the level of attendee, the serious UAS solutions on the exhibit floor, the conference content, and the professional discourse among participants."
The event featured four keynotes, three plenaries, dozens of industry-specific presentations, offsite flying demonstrations, numerous networking events and more than 150 exhibitors packing 180 booths with best-in-class solutions for commercial end user/asset owners in top vertical markets. The event ran from October 24-26 at The Westgate. The next edition will be held October 1-3, 2018, also at the Westgate, and incorporate Drone World Expo, whose acquisition by Diversified Communications, producer of Commercial UAV Expo, was announced in the opening session of the event.
Keynoters were presented by Mike Winn of Drone Deploy, Hunter Cole of Brasfield & Gorrie, Grant Hagen of the Beck Group, Mike Blades of Frost & Sullivan, Colin Snow of Skylogic Research, Anil Nanduri of Intel and Panos Artemiadis of Arizona State University. Plenary panels covered BVLOS and an update on Pathfinder, UTM, and Regulatory & Government. Breakout sessions were vertical industry specific.
Jeremiah Karpowicz, Executive Editor of Commercial UAV News, presenter of Commercial UAV Expo, commented on the prominent themes in the conference program. "Organizations are interested in actionable information, not raw data. That's a theme we've been hearing for a while now, but it really came into focus at this year's event. Presenters on each vertical industry track were focused on how they're able to integrate and effectively process data gathered by a drone in relation to the workflows they've already established. They showcased how this data can make sense for professionals of all types today, and also what that will mean when developments like AI and machine learning really take off. Those are concepts that lots of people are talking about, which is why it was great to get a better understanding of the processes and procedures that will enable these capabilities."
Commercial UAV Expo's Advisory Board, comprised of 16 industry leaders, played a critical role in the development of the program and at the event as presenters, panel moderators and more. "We're so grateful to the members of the Advisory Board for their advice, support, time and energy," said Ms. Murray.
Lewis Graham, President and CTO of GeoCue Group and a member of the Advisory Board, remarked on the high caliber of attendees visiting his booth on the exhibit floor. "As a provider of professional mapping software, our target market is the professional audience. We found them in droves at Commercial UAV Expo. Normally we have two people working our booth but this year we had three and could barely handle all the traffic. We couldn't even stop for lunch. This is a much more professional audience than we've found at other events—typically we spend half our time filtering out non-professionals. We didn't have to do that here."
Kaci Lemler, Field of View's COO, echoed the sentiment. "We found a high concentration of qualified buyers at Commercial UAV Expo. We saw people we needed to see - people using drones and familiar enough with the technology to know that when they saw our product that they felt the pain of not having it. That can only happen with a highly technical crowd."
Numerous pre-conference workshops and trainings took place at the event, providing additional educational opportunities for attendees and further establishing Commercial UAV Expo as the leading venue for professional UAS education. Among them was the first-ever UAS technical symposium and UAS Mapping Certification by ASPRS, the American Society of Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing. Following a full day symposium giving the attendee a comprehensive understanding of UAS mapping in accordance with current geospatial accuracy standards, participants could choose to sit for a certification exam. "We are honored that APSRS chose to host its first-ever UAS technical symposium exclusively at Commercial UAV Expo and we congratulate the first crop of ASPRS UAS mapping certification holders," said Lisa Murray, Director of Commercial UAV Expo. Other workshops and trainings at the event included Flyability's indoor drone inspection training; a technical seminar by AirGon on high-accuracy mapping with DJI; Pix4D's user training; and a workshop presented by MicaSense on the use of drone imagery in agriculture.
Additionally, drone demonstrations for first responders took place October 25th at the Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range (HUVR). The HUVR is managed by the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site. Local and national public safety experts including Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, Metropolitan Las Vegas Police, Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada State College, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Sundance Media Group demonstrated drone use for a variety of real-world scenarios. The training was sponsored by Aeryon Labs and Yuneec, whose drones and systems were used in the demonstrations. Live-stream monitoring walked more than 250 attendees through simulated procedures and best practices using UAS in scenarios including mapping an accident scene incorporating search and rescue of a passenger and vehicle pursuit with high-risk traffic stop including suspect pursuit.
Ms. Murray announced the acquisition of Drone World Expo in her welcome remarks. "Since 2015, the market has exploded with drone events, making for a congested and complicated landscape for customers to choose from," said Ms. Murray. "The acquisition of JD Event's Drone World Expo by Diversified Communications takes two leading commercial UAS events and unites them to form the largest commercial drone event in the market. By coming together, we'll be able to deliver more qualified buyers to vendors than if had we continued separately, making it easier for vendors and buyers to meet in one place annually for all of their drone business. And, with our European event and digital platform, we are making it easier for drone companies to reach markets domestic and international with a frequency and reach no one else in the market can offer."
The news was very well received by exhibitors and attendees alike. "We were thrilled to learn about the recent acquisition of Drone World Expo as it solidifies Commercial UAV Expo's position as the preeminent UAS event," said Aaron L. Greenwald, President of Unmanned Safety Institute. Gretchen West, Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells and Co-Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, has acted as Drone World Expo's Advisory Board Chair and will continue to play a vital role going forward. The Commercial Drone Alliance likewise will be supporting the event. "On behalf of the Commercial Drone Alliance, and along with my fellow co-executive director, Lisa Ellman, we are thrilled to support this merged event and will continue our focus of bringing the most relevant, timely and critical content to the Commercial UAV Expo with the most prominent decision-makers in our industry. The decision to consolidate events to become the largest and most influential commercial drone event is an important step and allows the community to focus resources on this all-inclusive conference and tradeshow to achieve greater value. We look forward to building off the huge success of the Drone World Expo through our partnership with the Commercial UAV Expo, bringing the same caliber of expert speakers, and creating the most comprehensive drone event to date," said West.
The 2018 event will take place October 1-3 at the Westgate Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and will be organized by Diversified Communications under the leadership of Ms. Murray, whose other products in the product family are Commercial UAV Expo Europe and Commercial UAV News. Other products in the company's technology portfolio include International LiDAR Mapping Forum, SPAR 3D Expo & Conference, SPAR 3D.com, AECNext Technology Expo & Conference and AEC Next News.