Updates and Insights from AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019

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While new products like the Elios 2 and AtlasNest debuted at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL 2019, there were numerous other topics that dominated conversations throughout the event. As is often the case, developments that will have a major impact on the commercial drone industry for the rest of 2019 and beyond were discussed during sessions, on the floor and beyond.

Experts and visionaries from across the space took the stage and engaged in discussions at XPONENTIAL to detail how and where they’ve seen the technology make a difference. We caught up with a handful of them to discuss what such developments will mean for the industry as a whole.


From Gatwick to Switzerland and Beyond

Incidents involving drones like the one that occurred at Gatwick airport to shut down the facility are top of mind for people inside and outside the industry. That was part of the reason that conversations about what it means to determine whether or not a drone represents a threat took place throughout the event. What was especially telling was to see how such developments are becoming part of the effort to enable a true UTM system to ensure both manned and unmanned aircraft can safely share the sky.

The pressure to create U-space all stems from people wanting to be assured someone is in control, from the BVLOS operations at scale session at @AUVSIshow #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/HRiuAphRq7

— Jeremiah Karpowicz (@jeremiahkarp) April 29, 2019

“What you have to realize is that Gatwick got all the headlines, but there have been over 10 shutdowns at other airports since then,” said David Hose, CEO at AirMap. “It’s the reason that efforts to create a UTM system are ultimately about making a safety case for the technology. Enabling awareness will allow the technology to make sense at scale and ensure manned and unmanned aircraft can operate in the same airspace in a totally safe manner.”

Operating in this manner is something that’s currently happening in Switzerland, which has become one of the world leading locations for the development of core technology and high-end applications for drones. Switzerland’s efforts to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft have created a model around what U-space could look like across Europe and the entire world.

During one of the keynote discussions, the topic of what airports want and need came up, and it ultimately comes down to the detection and mitigation of drones. However, mitigation is complicated, which underscores why the creation of a UTM system that can facilitate safe operations in the airspace for aircraft of all types is so important.


Urban Air Mobility and 5G

The Bell Nexus air taxi was probably the highlight of the show floor, partly because attendees could actually get into the vehicle to experience what it would be like to fly in it. It also generated attention because it’s the eventual future of drone technology that gets everyone excited. Exactly how it’s going to be enabled is an issue that goes beyond regulation and hardware though.

“Connectivity and 5G will change the operational models for drones, and we’re already seeing that happen in a big way, said Mariah Scott, President at Skyward, a Verizon company. “5G is set to be in 30 cities by the end of this year, and the benefits that enterprises will be able to see from that are considerable. Operational control doesn’t scale without this kind of connectivity, and the maturation of 5G and IoT ecosystems is going redefine how various enterprises leverage and deploy drone technology.”

The future of urban air mobility on display at @AUVSIshow #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/C7zPBhus2D

— Jeremiah Karpowicz (@jeremiahkarp) April 30, 2019

Companies like Skyward are more focused on enterprise drone operations in the 5G-connected future than they are on how vehicles like the Bell Nexus air taxi will function in them, but many of the eight “currencies” of 5G line up with what it will mean for such vehicles to operate within interconnected IoT ecosystems. While there is still plenty of value that can and is being unlocked with 4G, the future of urban air mobility will depend on the powerful and reliable communications that 5G represents.


Machine Learning and AI

The exponential growth of drone technology has been an overt theme for XPONENTIAL ever since it debuted, but PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen talked about that topic in a different way when he took the stage to debut and showcase PrecisionAnalytics Energy. This new product is a complete aerial mapping, modeling, and inspection platform that uses the latest generation of artificial intelligence and machine intelligence to automate analysis of aerial data.

“We’re seeing exponential growth because of the machine learning and AI capabilities that are utilized in these new tools,” Chasen told Commercial UAV News. “These tools are replacing what was by nature a very inexact process so that instead of a patchwork of information, we have high-resolution data that provides management with the insight they need to make decisions.”

The way in which AI and machine learning could reshape entire industries is a theme we’ve explored in detail, and the value they represent can be quantified. For one top 50 American utilities, PrecisionHawk’s drone services increased the areas of concern identified by 42%. Automated UAV technology and machine learning computer vision analysis of collected images are here, and their arrival could help fulfill the potential of the technology that so many have been talking about for years now.


What does it mean to determine whether or not a drone represents a threat? And then who needs to be involved in the response? From Michael Huerta at @AUVSIshow #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/fxln3m550R

— Jeremiah Karpowicz (@jeremiahkarp) May 2, 2019

Into the Mainstream

Since so many of the speakers and attendees at XPONENTIAL talk about and think about drone technology every day, it can be easy to forget that the general publican still be somewhat skeptical of the technology. While much progress has been made in this area, many are concerned about how drones can impact the way in which people exercise their rights to free speech, protest, and other lawful activities. Thankfully, companies such as Cape are helping police departments like the Chula Vista PD deploy the technology in a way that makes sense for those organizations while also addressing and calming concerns about how the technology is and is not being used.

“Our goal was always to move drone operations into the mainstream, and creating awareness is everything,” said Chris Rittler, CEO at Cape. “That awareness allowed the Chula Vista PD to utilize their drone in the way that they have, and that transparency really impacts the public perception of the technology. All of that is possible because everything is connected, and the applications can only get more powerful from here. There are hundreds of use cases now, and that’s about to be thousands.”

The Chula Vista PD has pioneered the concept of how drones can be used as first responders, and such applications are changing the way in which people think about the technology. That change will revolutionize how departments of all sizes and professionals in various industries will be able to adopt the technology to positively impact public perception. That change will help drive the exponential growth of the technology and drone industry as a whole.

There were plenty more highlights and developments that came out of XPONENTIAL though. Check out some of the pictures, quotes and links below, or head over to the #auvsiXPO hashtag.


A close look at the Elios 2 from @fly_ability at @AUVSIshow #auvsixpo More details here…https://t.co/0ngNOT18Eg pic.twitter.com/twx9DZ3cV5

— Jeremiah Karpowicz (@jeremiahkarp) April 30, 2019

“AI and machine learning aren’t about replacing people, but complementing them to assist with work already being done,” from @PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen at @AUVSIshow #auvsixpo pic.twitter.com/LnjY5wXv9x

— Jeremiah Karpowicz (@jeremiahkarp) April 30, 2019

Luke Fox of @WhiteFoxDefense: “We have to get past the fear of drones, so they can continue to do great things. Remote ID provides accountability to move past the noise.”#auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/sxDgyMlPBD

— Brendan Schulman (@dronelaws) April 30, 2019

.@joshuaziering with @kittyhawkio talks about the importance of #LAANC and understanding where you’re operating. Are you familiar with LANNC Service Suppliers? Learn more at https://t.co/HeWpEPVf8R. #FAADroneGuy pic.twitter.com/QganZdrr62

— The FAA (@FAANews) May 1, 2019

“We are living in the most exciting century in human history.”

Dan Lyons, acclaimed speaker and journalist, offers the following advice to #auvsiXPO attendees:

#1- Don’t sleep in your Tesla

#2- Go at human speed

#3- Invest in your humans pic.twitter.com/dsxkwsg7Ec

— Deseret UAS (@DeseretUas) April 30, 2019

👏🎉Join us in congratulating GAI Instructor, Dave Root, for winning the Unmanned Safety Institute Safety Kit at #auvsiXPO!! 👏🎉 Go, Dave!! pic.twitter.com/EFUXpFYtBf

— USI (@UnmannedSafety) May 2, 2019

Women and Diversity in Robotics happening now. #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/pw4QjkMwbv

— Kara Murphy 🚁 (@karaemurphyco) April 30, 2019

Great summary of our regulatory panel at AUVSI! https://t.co/2OiF7z74v9

— Diana Marina Cooper (@Diana_M_Cooper) May 6, 2019

Took home the goods this morning in Chicago at #auvsiXPO

💥First Place Winner
💥Technology & Innovation
💥Xcellence Award
💥Fleet Management

Stop by booth MR-3 to say hi. pic.twitter.com/dn3fKcoyGG

— Kittyhawk (@kittyhawkio) April 30, 2019

It was great to see #UTM field newcomers stop by yesterday’s #auvsiXPO panel “Understanding Transportation Policy Across Domains” featuring our Karen DiMeo to learn more about key policy issues and to discuss the future of our industry! pic.twitter.com/ze0AL1J82v

— AiRXOS (@AiRXOS_) April 30, 2019

It was an honor today to receive an export achievement certificate from the U.S. Department of Commerce. #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/o2sBxJKuET

— AeroVironment (@aerovironment) April 30, 2019

“Wildlife Response to UAS” was a meaningful presentation at #auvsiXPO. Thank you @DroneECO @OceansUnmanned @tread_lightly @MarineUAS @alittle_harsh for your research and spreading the word. pic.twitter.com/5m75DfvrWK

— Aeronautics (@ERAUwwcoa) May 3, 2019

Honored to win 1st for two @AUVSI XCELLENCE awards in Tech Innovation! One of our counter-#drone products, DroneFox Mobile, won for #UAS Mitigation & Security. Out secure remote ID, WISDM, won for Innovation. Thank you @AUVSIshow. Visit Booth 2905 to see why #AUVSI #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/Rsmmxgcgqc

— WhiteFox (@WhiteFoxDefense) April 30, 2019

“There shouldn’t be 1 drone manufacturer, 1 UTM, and 1 regulator involved. We want to create a competitive but collaborative environment where everyone is welcome to join as long as they’re contributing to ensuring safety” said AirMap’s Dannick Riteco at #auvsiXPO. pic.twitter.com/TgDo4uDd4L

— AirMap (@AirMapIO) April 29, 2019

The #FAADroneGuy is back! He’s with the FAA’s Angela Stubblefield who tells us how the #FAA works with other government agencies on #drone security issues. #auvsiXPO pic.twitter.com/PXrCkw8Gwp

— The FAA (@FAANews) April 30, 2019

Eddie from @DJIGlobal takes a minute at #auvsiXPO to talk about the importance of safety and knowing airspace restrictions like TFRs and NOTAMs when you are flying a drone. As Eddie says, a good drone pilot is always learning! Visit https://t.co/vsqnuqjY8A to learn more! 🤜🏽🤛🏽 pic.twitter.com/gdX3Y40UnY

— The FAA (@FAANews) April 30, 2019

AUVSI 2019 has officially come to a close! A big thank you to everyone who made such an amazing event possible👏Interested in attending next years conference?? AUVSI 2020 will be in Boston, Massachusetts😃 Mark your calendars, we hope to see you there!! #tech #auvsixpo #drone pic.twitter.com/DAUKfZCq3S

— xCraft UAV (@xCraftUAV) May 5, 2019

Good bye, Windy City. The @ExpoUAV team and I had a great time at #xponential 2019. Looking forward to working with the many new connections we made! pic.twitter.com/gEZ2Z4equt

— Casey Reynolds (@CaseyReynolds44) May 3, 2019

The post Updates and Insights from AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 appeared first on Commercial UAV News.

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